Second Chance Day: “It gives you a sense of hope”

GEORGETOWN, Del. – Probation and parole along with community organizations are making sure a second chance is within reach, by providing recently incarcerated individuals with the necessary resources.

“It’s important because it gives you a sense of hope, and a sense that somebody else – they believe in you and whatever crime you committed doesn’t define you, and it lets you move on in your future, not be stuck in your past,” recently incarcerated, Douglas said.

Resource Fair

Douglas has been out of prison for 7 months and now he’s taking advantage of new opportunities that probation and parole offer. “What we’re doing is called Second Chance Day and we’re focusing on employment services this morning. I am working with individuals in their last 6 months of incarceration, I’m providing workshops where we are covering a variety of topics over those workshops once a month, whether it revolves housing, education, employment, or obtaining legal documents. We’re linking these individuals to these agencies prior to release so when they get out it makes a fluid transition into the community,” Kevin Cooper, Senior Probation Officer and In Reach Coordinator for Sussex County said.

Employment Barriers

Some probationers may come across issues when trying to land a job after a life behind bars. “They have either a lapse in employment that they have to explain why they were incarcerated, but they’re also dealing with a criminal record that’s going to show up on a background check,” Cooper said.

Job Opportunities

Restaurants like Paradise Grill in Long Neck Delaware are working to change that narrative. Owner Al Tortella, hiring 5 people right on the spot at the resource fair giving them a second chance. “It’s not as easy anymore, 2018/2019 the good ole days when it comes to hiring, it’s a different world now, so you got to think outside the box,” Al Tortella.

If you are looking for a summer job and have spent time in jail the Paradise Grill is looking to fill 50 more spots. “From prep, to line cooks, there’s running food to bussing tables to cleaning tables. There’s just a whole handful of opportunities that we can teach people,” Tortella said.

Other Resources

Also, at the resource fair was “We have CVS and Paradise Grill, doing open interviews for our clientele, later today we’re going to have Mountaire and Revolve Staffing Career Team coming in to work with our individuals. We’re also introducing community partners, that we’ve established relationships with including multiple nonprofits, Impact Life, the Way Home Program, Delaware Center for Justice, First State Community Action. DHSS has been a huge supporter for us.” Cooper said.

Community partners also present to share more resources for success. “Promoting our case management services, Delaware Center for Justice assisting clients on probation and parole with case management for a number of years.  And each probation office we have employment labs in each probation office,” Emma Smith, with the Delaware Center for Justice said.

Kevin Cooper with Probation and Parole says “The more stability that we can set up, the less likely, the individual is in returning to criminal behavior.”

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