By The Sentinel Echo Staff
Staying out of jail may be as easy as having a steady job for some former Kentucky inmates.
Former inmates who stay employed for one year are about 35 percent less likely to return to jail than those who don’t work, Kentucky Justice and Public Safety Cabinet Secretary John Tilley today told the Interim Joint Committee on Local Government. He praised county jails that offer GED and work certification programs which, he said, are helping Kentucky reduce its inmate population and grow the state economy.
“We release 16,000 people a year from state prison alone – 16,000,” Tilley told the committee. “Imagine if we could count on having those people ready for the workforce.”
Fewer than one-third of the state’s 76 county jails have some kind of program to ease reentry for prisoners, he said. Among the jails that do offer such programs is the 297-bed Marion County Detention Center (MCDC) where programs ranging from GED classes to R.E.A.C.H. (Re-Entering American Communities with Hope) help inmates succeed once they are released.
A high-profile MCDC former inmate who Tilley said praised the jail’s programming is former Northern Kentucky football star Zeke Pike, a one-time Auburn quarterback who has struggled with addiction and arrest in recent years.