Arizona unveils program to help inmates find jobs, success on the outside

Gov. Ducey announced the new Second Chance Box Executive Order to help former Arizona inmates receive jobs skills to become productive citizens.

PHOENIX - This morning the Arizona Gov. Doug Ducey's Office held a briefing to discuss recidivism reduction and new employment initiatives for inmates including an expansion of job centers and reentry center.

In Arizona, 39 percent of ex-inmates will reoffend. Many return to prison because they lack the opportunity to become productive and get a job. The governor’s office is working to change that.

“We want to see people re-entering society, going back to work and restarting their life," Ducey said, "and we think this is a program that gives them that second chance."

Ducey issued a new executive order called Second Chance Box.

“What that means is state agencies will no longer inquire about an applicants criminal history until after they’ve turned in their application and received an initial interview," said Ben Henderson, the deputy chief of operations at the governor's office.

On top of this, the state is working to add two new facilities at the former site of Tent City. One would be a 265-bed community corrections center and the other would be a 335-bed employment center which will get inmates ready for release into the workforce.

“From job training to resume writing to learning interview skills and then knowing there’s a job waiting for them,” said Ducey. 

Donald Stevenson spent his entire 20s in prison and his experience with programs like this were invaluable.

“I got out when I was 29, I’m 32 and I’ve been working for two years now. What made me change is this program, them giving me the opportunity to show how loyal I can be,” said Stevenson.

Now, he is training other inmates and getting them ready for jobs.

“When I see these guys happy and learning something new, when they climb, when they accomplish -- these guys only accomplished bad, so when they accomplish something good, you should see their faces, it’s unexplainable," said Stevenson.

We will keep you updated on the new Second Chance Box executive order and the progress of the corrections and employment centers.

© 2017 KPNX-TV


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