IDOC honored for virtual job fair

April 5, 2019

INDIANAPOLIS — The Hoosier Initiative for Re-Entry, Indiana Department of Correction and Indiana Department of Workforce and Development have been nationally recognized for a virtual job fair that seeks to find employment for incarcerated individuals.

Earlier this month, the DWD accepted the William J. Harris Equal Opportunity Award at the National Association of State Workforce Agencies’ 2019 Winter Policy Forum in Washington, D.C. This award is given to a state “demonstrating excellence and innovation in the area of equal opportunity,” according to IDOC spokeswoman Margaux Auxier.

The state agencies were awarded for hosting an online virtual job fair in the fall of 2018 for 132 offenders at five correctional facilities across the state, including the Westville Correctional Center. The event is believed to be the first of its kind in the nation, Auxier said.

Six employers from across the state took part, including representatives from the Indiana Department of Transportation.

“IDOC and DWD took a strategy that would normally be difficult (an in-facility job fair) and used technology and relationships with Indiana businesses to market an underserved population,” said Hoosier Initiative for Re-Entry Director Carrie Heck.

“IDOC’s pipeline of strong and skilled workers will fill in the gaps Indiana employers have in their workforce. Our in-facility clients are walking out with viable certifications that employers are seeking. I’m excited to see what’s next!”

Indiana’s correctional facilities currently house about 27,000 offenders in 21 state prisons, Auxier said, and more than 90 percent of them will eventually be released.

“Among formerly incarcerated adults in Indiana facilities, there is a 33.87 percent percent recidivism rate in the first three years after being released. Recidivism numbers decrease dramatically for those who are able to secure employment and stay on the job.”

The Hoosier Initiative for Re-Entry (HIRE) program was created in 2012 as a collaborative initiative between IDOC and DWD to “help people with past involvement with the legal system reintegrate into society and to create career paths to give them the opportunities to improve their lives in a sustainable way through work,” she said.

—From staff reports