Employers from companies across northern Indiana got to visit Westville Correctional Facility Thursday as part of an initiative to encourage businesses to hire former inmates.
At the Employer Day event, company representatives got a glimpse into inmates’ daily work. That meant touring a warehouse where inmates use high-powered saws and nail guns to refurbish shipping pallets.
Doug Evans is the re-entry manager for PEN Industries and helps organize these visits with the Indiana Department of Corrections. He says connecting inmates to employers is vital because former inmates with jobs have a significantly lower chance of returning to prison.
“Anywhere from 85 to 89 percent of the people who are re-arrested are unemployed at the time of rearrest,” he says. “So if that doesn’t make a statement, I’m not sure what does.”
Inmates told visitors the work gives them a way to earn money for phone calls and better food. But just as important, they’re also racking up certifications and skills for when they’re released and apply for jobs.
The visit was the fourth Employer Day event in a state prison so far.