‘A pathway to success’: Fletcher, TPSO and Goodwill team up to offer inmates job training before their return to society

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May 10, 2021
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A new program aims to provide Terrebonne Parish inmates with the knowledge and skills for a greater chance at a successful reentry into society. 


Last week, Fletcher Technical Community College, Goodwill Industries of Southeastern Louisiana and the Terrebonne Parish Sheriff’s Office inked an agreement for a program that provides job training for incarcerated individuals before their release. 


“We are here to celebrate as well as to sign some documents today that are going to seal a new partnership and a new future for many people in our communities,” Fletcher Chancellor Dr. Kristine Strickland said on Friday during the signing ceremony at the college’s atrium. 


According to Strickland, about 60 percent of incarcerated people who do not obtain some sort of high school diploma, credential or associate’s degree return to jail. However, she said, that percentage drops to below 20 percent with some level of education. 


“It is programs like these that make a substantial difference in our communities. These individuals need education. They need training. They need a pathway to success and a way to make a living and create a life once they exit the judicial system. And that’s what we’re here to provide,” Strickland said. 

The program offers inmates training and certifications for automotive repair, welding and forklift operation, among others. After Fletcher provides them with the skills, Goodwill helps the students with job placement and other support services. The organization also funds their tuition and training supplies. 


“We have been working with returning citizens for about nine years, and we’ve had several grants. Currently, we have probably eight grants to work with returning citizens,” said Jodee Daroca, President and CEO of Goodwill Industries of Southeastern Louisiana. “Our success is based on the fact that we have really strong case management, job coaches, retention specialists and people who go out into the community and find partnerships just like this.”


The Lafourche Parish Sheriff’s Office began the program with Goodwill and Fletcher in January of this year. 


“We trained about 12 in welding, probably nine in auto, and we did a bunch for forklift training,” Nancy Clement, Executive Dean of Technical Education at Fletcher, commented on Lafourche’s first cohort. “It went really well.” 


Terrebonne Parish Sheriff Tim Soignet said transitional work was something he wanted to institute when he took office in July 2020. Currently, there are about 66 inmates participating in the workforce, which he said is a “step in the right direction.” 


Soignet highlighted how educational programs for inmates help with preventing future crimes. 


“We’re working for [inmates] to get their GEDs so they can at least have a good start, coupled with Fletcher so we can get some certifications and put them in the workforce and really build a resume… so when they get out, they get a better opportunity,” he said. “If they get out and they move in the right path, then we’re preventing crime instead of them starting to do the same things over and over again.”