Ex-Offender Program Celebrating Milestone

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INDIANAPOLIS -

A state program that helps place thousands of ex-offenders into jobs is this week marking its fifth anniversary. Scott Judd, who has used the Hoosier Initiative for Re-Entry to hire workers at one company and is in the process of doing so at a second, says while he was initially nervous, H.I.R.E. has connected him with employees who have turned out to be "very driven." H.I.R.E. client Herman Sadler, who now works for Westin Hotel in downtown Indianapolis, says the program has put him in a position to potentially buy a house and land a promotion in the next year.

H.I.R.E., which is a program of the Indiana Department of Workforce Development, held a ceremony this week to mark its fifth anniversary. Organizers say the goal of the program is to work with many of the 20,000 inmates released from Indiana prisons each year to help them reintegrate into society and become a taxpayer instead of a tax burden.

Judd says he was apprehensive to hire ex-offenders at first, because "I'm only as good as my last hire." However, he says he realized that the workers had their worst secrets out in the open, and were honest and straightforward about their pasts and hopes for the future. Judd used the program at his previous company, SRG Global in Evansville, and is in the process of bringing it on with his new company, A Schulman.

Sadler says the people he has worked with at the H.I.R.E. program have become like brothers and sisters, checking in on him regularly and even driving him to job interviews. He says he would recommend the program to any ex-offender.

The DWD says it also works to make sure the program is a win for employers who use it to hire workers. It works with companies to see what type of employees it needs and works with clients to make sure their skill sets match. The department says each candidate goes through a "lengthy and strenuous process" before being matched with an employer.

In addition to helping those released become productive members of society, the department says the state benefits as well. The DWD estimates it costs the state $25,000 per year to incarcerate one offender, and 35 percent of them return to prison after three years.

You can find more information about the H.I.R.E. program by clicking here.

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