A new program in Pulaski County is aiming to grow the local workforce while, at the same time, helping people who are incarcerated get a new start. It's called the Comprehensive Rehabilitation of Inmates Transforming Individuals, Community and Livelihoods or CRITICAL.
In three-phases, the initiative teaches soft skills and technical training to inmates, who can also learn about and interview for job opportunities while in jail. Those who complete the program are also credited with 30 days of time served.
Pulaski County Jailer Anthony McCollum said he has one of the most overcrowded jails in the state. Instead of building a new jail, he said he wants to slow down the revolving door of people being reincarcerated.
“There’s a lot of jobs to be offered here in Pulaski County, and we got to thinking, one of the pools to pull from would be people that are incarcerated that deserve that second chance.”
He said it was important to partner with the community and technical colleges in the region, as well as employers looking for workers.
“We’ve had an overwhelming response from the community here in Pulaski County. Most of the businesses are willing to buy into this.”
Employers will come to the jail and interview inmates who have completed their training and are close to being released.
Inmates begin by learning soft-skills, then a program leader determines if that person also needs technical training; if they do, they meet with an advisor and begin a college course track to earn the right certification.
If an inmate doesn’t need technical training, they will take professional skill courses to prepare them for job interviews.
The program is scheduled to begin in January.