BEAUMONT, Texas — Getting back to work after serving time behind bars is tough. That's why one Southeast Texas organization is working to help the recently released get back on their feet for a new start.
Roughly 90 percent of people who go to prison end up being released. But even then, many feel like they are still being punished when they look for work.
"Up to this point. Doors have been closed left and right," said Travis 'Mikey' McBride.
McBride spent three years behind bars. He was released last April.
“Since coming home, I found it very hard to get jobs that I’m well qualified for and have experience,” McBride said.
He's not alone. The unemployment rate for formerly incarcerated people is five times higher than the general population.
"You come and apply for a job. It's almost impossible to get that job especially when you have to check off on the application that you have been incarcerated,” said Anthony Haynes, executive director of the Creative Corrections Education Foundation.
That's where the foundation comes in.
"It could take anything from plumbing, welding, carpentry, scalpel, build, core saved course, implementation, and these courses give them a chance to compete in the job market once they get released," Haynes said.
DONATE | Help support the Creative Corrections Education Foundation
The Beaumont non-profit organization offers training programs for ex-offenders and also networks on their behalf.
"We meet and greet with these folks, these companies. They know about us because they know that we're training folks who have the initiative and willpower to want to be able to do better in their life,” Haynes said.
Since they opened in 2012, they've helped nearly 700 people.
“Some days, I didn't know if I was going to have gas to make it through there but I made it through the ten weeks and now I’m waiting on my certifications to come in the mail and it looks like I’ll be having a scaffold job pretty soon,” said program graduate Colin Sonnier.
Some people like Sonnier just finished their training and are still waiting for that job offer. Others graduated, found jobs and came back for more training.
“The first program I completed was a scaffold building,” said program graduate Nakkeya Brandon. "I decided I wanted to go again but another trade.”
More than a job opportunity, ex-offenders need support.
"To know that someone has an open door for you even when you feel like all of the doors are closing," said program graduate Zachary Posey.
Haynes said their work depends on donations, so they are asking for people to join in their movement.
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