DeKalb County Workforce Area

Acquiring Career Training & Skills (ACTS)

In January 2003, the first cycle of an initiative between the DeKalb Workforce
Investment Board and the DeKalb County Sheriff’s Office began with the enrollment of
11 inmates in an Electrical Helper’s Program. The 12 weeks of training took place on jail
property in a building that had been modified to accommodate a hands-on classroom
environment. The Center of Industry and Technology (CIT) provided instruction. All of
the students were WIA-eligible adults who enrolled in training through an Individual
Training Account (ITA). Recruitment for the program was the responsibility of the
Sheriff’s Department. Each potential candidate was selected based on the nature of his
offense (no violent crimes), his academic ability (must have HS Diploma or be close to
completion of GED via the jail GED program), with a projected release date within a few
months of the end of training. The DeKalb Workforce Development Department
employed a case manager to work with the inmates during the training and to assist with
job placement upon completion of training and release from jail.
The Electrical Helper training was initially selected because the job market was good and
employers are receptive to hiring offenders. The initial success of the program was very
encouraging, as ten of the eleven inmates were released and nine obtained employment.
The second class of eight students started in June 2003. Commercial Maintenance was
selected because it exposed students to electrical helper, HVAC, general maintenance,
and some construction - providing greater employment opportunities for graduates. Of
particular note is that six of the eight students passed the EPA certification Level I test,
which added to their employability. As with the Electrical Helper training, the job
market was very good, with most employers receptive to hiring offenders.
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A total of 55 inmates have been enrolled in ACTS since it’s inception in 2003. Forty-five
inmates have completed the training and nine are still in training. Of the 38 participants
released from jail, 27 have obtained employment – and the remaining individuals are
actively seeking employment. Third quarter employment retention rates are over 90%.
The workforce board wanted to provide training opportunities to female inmates,
however, the Sheriff’s Department policy is not to have co-ed activities for inmates, and
the majority of women are not incarcerated long enough to complete a class anyway. As
an alternative, the case manager now holds sessions with female inmates about WIA
services that can be accessed upon release. The board also provided five PCs for use in
the jail, equipped with career information and self-assessment software, for use by
inmates. Women are encouraged to use these resources and make post-release plans.
The case manager now conducts regular orientation and eligibility sessions at the jail, so
inmates can seek workforce services at the local One-Stop Center upon their release.
For additional information, please contact:
DeKalb Workforce Area
(404) 687-3400

February 18, 2005