Kentucky’s Justice to Journeyman Program Is A Win For All

By Holly Harris, Executive Director, U.S. Justice Action Network

At some point, about 95 percent of people behind bars in Kentucky will be released. That’s why Kentucky is focused on ensuring that those individuals leave prison as better citizens, not better criminals.

Kentucky Labor Cabinet Secretary Derrick K. Ramsey

The biggest factor in ensuring that a returning citizen turns away from crime for good is a job. With that in mind, Kentucky Governor Matt Bevin launched the Justice to Journeyman program earlier this year, which provides apprenticeship training for incarcerated individuals. Through the program, inmates take classes and begin job training while they are still behind bars, and then they graduate to on-the-job apprenticeships with employers. Participants in the program also have access to one-on-one counseling and guidance in finding housing and transportation, further ensuring that they remain on track, and do not return to the bad decisions that first entangled them in the justice system.

This smart on crime program is also smart for business and for Kentucky’s economy. Previously, even correctional facilities that offered occupational training programs failed to match that training with labor force needs. Justice to Journeyman works with employers to ensure that inmates being trained are filling a deficiency in the labor force. Kentucky is currently 49th in workforce participation, and ensuring that incarcerated individuals are trained to fill jobs where employers are having a tough time finding skilled workers will help make Kentucky’s economy more competitive.

By filling gaps in the workforce and ensuring that these inmates become productive members of society, Justice to Journeyman is a win for everyone — a win for the individual who finds a job, a win for the taxpayer when the individual isn’t relying on government services, a win for public safety when the individual is leading a productive, crime-free life, and a win for Kentucky businesses that have increased access to skilled, qualified and dedicated workers.

We hope you can take a few minutes to watch Kentucky Labor Secretary Derrick Ramsey tell you more about Kentucky’s Justice to Journeyman program.

More from the U.S. Justice Action Network:

The U.S. Justice Action Network is the first action organization in the country to bring together progressive and conservative partners, collaborate with law enforcement, and employ federal and state-specific lobbying, public advocacy, and public education efforts to pass sweeping criminal justice reforms.

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