Fair Chance Employment — benefits of a second chance
Published 8:12 am Friday, November 10, 2023
By Lance Gaither
On Friday Nov. 3, the Boyle County-UK extension office hosted a fair chance employment regional conference sponsored by the Danville-Boyle County Development Corp., Boyle County Agency for Substance Abuse Policy and the Danville-Boyle County Chamber of Commerce.
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“We want to increase recovery support and readiness for the many people who have substance abuse disorders or have been incarcerated,” said Boyle County Agency for Substance Abuse Policy coordinator Kathy Miles. “For the community, Kentucky has a low workforce participation rate. We need people in the workforce in our area. People in recovery are a huge part of that.”
During the conference, Boyle County Detention Center Reentry and Programs director James Hunn said it is important to have a strong workforce reentry program for individuals who have been incarcerated.
“Second chances are what it is all about,” Hunn said. “Working at the jail, the guys inspired me to go back and get a master’s degree. The talent we see in our detention center everyday is what we need to invest in.”
Hunn said more than 700,000 people return to the workforce after leaving incarceration every year. He went on to say that the primary issues for the overwhelming majority of those returning are alcohol and substance abuse disorders.
Kentucky’s Parolee Orientation Reentry Training Assimilation Lesson plan or PORTAL New Direction, prepares inmates to be self-sufficient once they return to the workforce. Hunn explained that inmates lacking proper identification is just one barrier they face and that some inmates don’t even have birth certificates.
“The jail will pay to provide their birth certificate or social security card. That little investment goes a long way,” Hunn said. “We go over budget, housing, transportation. No matter what community they go back to, they have the tools to be successful.”
Boyle County Finance Officer Elaina Plyman shared her story of recovery from addiction and that a second chance for employment was crucial for her.
“When you make it through detox, therapy, and the 12 steps, you are still labeled a recovering addict, that is something I hope will change,” Plyman said. “Locking someone up doesn’t change the root cause of addiction. You need reentry specialists to teach you things. In recovery when you hit the first hurdle you want to quit. You don’t become an addict following the hard way, you do by following the easy way.”
She explained that she had a strong support network to help her during her recovery and that addicts need someone to help them up when they stumble.
“As addicts we are use to failing, we don’t need to feel like more of a failure,” Plyman said. “We need someone to say that they are here to help and that it is okay to mess up.”