FORT WAYNE, IND.(WPTA21)-America locks up more men and women than any other nation on the planet, two and a half million of them, and offers those who serve their time little help getting back on their feet after they’re released. Part of the reason so many end up back in jail.
“Your resume tells your employer about your work history and that kind of thing,” explains Stephanie Martin, “but your cover letter tells them about you.”
It’s training day at ‘A Chance Reemployment and Training Agency’, or ACRE. Stephanie Martin is the founder. Martin helps clients with criminal records get back into the workforce but not just helping them find jobs, she trains them on job finding skills; how to write resumes, how to interview for a job.. and how to keep a job once they find one.
“I know how hard it is for them and I know the different opportunities that were not given to them because of the barriers that they have,” she explains.
And her clients are eager to be productive. Stephen Mallory spent eleven years in prison for robbery, released two months ago. He has two young daughters.
“I have a lot to offer anyone and I’m willing to learn,” he explains. “Be able to buy my own house and be able to help support my family. I been missing out on a lot.”
Floyde Crane served a year and a half for domestic abuse, released last month.
“I have a good work ethic you know I’m a hard worker,” he says. “I just need to be pointed in the right direction is what I need. ‘And that’s what you’re gonna get here?’ Right. I’d be comfortable with my own place and a vegetable garden. ‘A vegetable garden. Why?’ I like to raise my own vegetables. ‘You like gardening?’ Yea.”
Stephanie Martin’s mission is personal, her father was in and out of jail her entire childhood, saw her mother struggle to raise her children. She wants to help others avoid what he mother and father suffered.
“You have all these able bodies that are just in the communities struggling,” she says, “and you see them in the Rescue Mission and you see them in the carriage houses because they are suitable and sustainable people. It’s just about getting them opportunities.”
“Is it important to let them know I have a felony or I’m on probation?” she instructs her clients, “or maybe you’re on some kind of medication that might cause you anxiety. The ultimate goal is for you to have permanent and sustainable employment.”