COBB COUNTY, Ga. — The Cobb County Adult Detention Center (CCADC) is working to restart the lives of those incarcerated.
On Friday, the jail graduated its first cohort of 13 detainees from their ReAlign ReStart Program which breaks down workforce stigma while also addressing Georgia’s prolonged workforce shortage.
Earlier this year, CCADC partnered with WorkSource Cobb– also known as CobbWorks – and Construction Ready to create a program that trains and prepares inmates for jobs in construction and various skilled trades.
The completion of the 20-day program leaves participants with up to eight industry-recognized credentials and job placements in areas of construction, HVAC, welding and more.
The program also offers career counseling, resume preparation and mock interviews to give inmates career skills that last beyond lock-up.
WorkSource Cobb CEO Sonya Grant told 11Alive, she believes it is programs like ReAlign Restart that help reduce crime by reducing poverty and preventing recidivism.
“As an individual is incarcerated and has made some bad choices and mistakes in their lives, it doesn't necessarily define who they truly are,” Grant said. “And oftentimes people only know what they see before them. And when there's no opportunities that are given, those individuals only know to go back to what they knew, so these programs like this are really, really critical.”
Vice President of Construction Ready Jamie Buck said this is why support from the program does not stop after graduation.
“We'll follow up the graduates at 30, 60, 90, 180 and 365 days to make sure that they are doing well in the job and they're continuing their success in the industry,” Buck explained.
As part of ReAlign ReStart, they also provide financial funding to graduates to ensure they have the resources to maintain their careers despite adversities they may face once they re-enter back into society.
“We're recognizing that there's barriers to employment. So if an individual's in need of transportation, we'll provide funds for transportation to make sure they can get to work on time,” Grant said.
Assistance for childcare, food security, housing and mental health services are also made available after graduation.
Although the program is graduating its first cohort, Grant said CCADC already has 200 inmates interested in its next phase.
They have even started a welding cohort for those who are specifically interested in the trade as a career path.
Grant expressed how ReAlign ReStart is giving people hope by not only addressing the need for workforce training in inmates but also putting a dent in Georgia’s labor shortage.
“Employers are so desperately in need right now that they're really starting to look at these strategic populations as viable candidates to solutions for skills gaps. These were always viable populations. But because the talent pool was so large, they had a lot of choices. Right now, the opportunities are out there,” she said.
“The employers tell us that these are some of the best employees that they have working for them,” Buck added.
With the success of the first program, both Grant and Buck hope to maintain funding to continue the work of ReAlign ReStart.
They believe the program will allow those incarcerated a better chance to be a part of their communities once again.