On behalf of the Connecticut Manufacturers Resource Group, we would like to thank Leesa Schipani for moderating the panel discussion with Willard-Cybulski Warden, Eulalia Garcia, Whitcraft Human Resources Manager, Peter Brunault and Whitcraft employee and Second Chance program graduate, Angel Torres. The discussion centered around the partnership that Whitcraft has forged with the Second Chance program. Participants in our virtual Manufacturers Workforce Summit Series had the opportunity to hear everyone’s story and ask questions to learn more about this productive partnership.
As the manufacturing sector continues to grapple with skilled workers heading toward retirement and the shortage of talent to fill these roles, researching a second chance program may be a good option. Let’s explore some of the frequent questions around second chance.
What is a second chance program?
The Connecticut Department of Correction’s (DOC) second chance program is a structured program that instills a high standard of accountability and an expectation of responsibility on the part of the offender. The program combines education with work experiences in preparation for a successful integration back into the community. When talking with Angel, he shared that the program even included the expectation that his bed was made each morning. He felt the program taught him habits for life.
How does the program work?
Offenders must meet strict criteria before entering the program which teaches them expected work habits, prepares them for jobs and helps them navigate the reentry process. The DOC works with potential employers to set up a program that allows offenders to come on site and work. Offenders are transported to and from the employers location and a corrections officer remains on site during the work hours. The programs in place today pay offenders a competitive wage, train them to succeed and often continue their employment upon release.
How do employers integrate these folks into the workforce?
Peter Brunault, shared that participants in the program are treated like every other employee in their manufacturing facilities. An interview is conducted, new hires participate in training and orientation and performance is addressed when necessary. They are treated just like other members of the team and sometimes it doesn’t work out. When asked about having a corrections officer on site, Peter mentioned that officers are not in uniform and employees are not bothered by their presence.
How can I learn more about the second chance program?
Eulalia Garcia, Warden at Willard-Cybulski in Enfield, CT is happy to talk with you about the Second Chance program. Currently, the programs are on hold as we continue to fight Covid and she is looking to talk with potential employers for possible partnerships once the virus has abated.
Connecticut is viewed as a model for correction systems around the country as an emphasis is placed on preparing offenders for a successful re-entry into the community. The Second Chance partnership is one of the many strategies to support this population. We encourage you to learn more!