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Goodwill Industries of Kentucky creates new opportunities for state inmates

Goodwill Industries of Kentucky, Inc.

Prisoners at seven state prisons in Kentucky, including the Eastern Kentucky Correctional Complex in Morgan County, will have the opportunity to take advantage of a new employment path. Goodwill Industries of Kentucky received an ASPIRE grant for almost $4,000 to help released prisoners reintegrate into the workforce through a partnership with community organizations in Louisville. Officials said Goodwill hopes to help 400 inmates with job training and work-and-learn programs over the next two years.

Jessie Ferguson, Director of Prison and Justice Initiatives, is leading the program. Ferguson previously spent time working for three of the seven prisons included in this grant, Eastern Kentucky Correctional Complex, Luther Luckett Correctional Complex, Roederer Correctional Complex.

Ferguson said workshops will take place while inmates are still in their facilities, and they will be monitored closely for 90 days after release.

“We’ll have our workshops, you know make sure they have all the proper identification that they need, transportation, financial wealth, technology, because that could look a lot different than when they went in. We also touch on healthy relationships and safe boundaries, parenting and child support, health and wellness, recovery, restorative justice, re-entry planning and having those back-up plans. And we’ll do that inside the institution, and we’ll also carry that over outside the institution as well,” said Ferguson.

Officials said the program is for inmates being released to live in Louisville. That doesn’t mean it doesn’t have the potential to help inmates from eastern Kentucky and other parts of the state. Ferguson said there are several reasons a person might be sent to Louisville upon release.

“Maybe that’s where their home placement is because they didn’t have a home placement, so they went to a re-entry service center. Then they have employment maybe in Eastern Kentucky. Well that’s fine, and we’ll track them for 12 months after those 90 days, at least monthly, and depending on the need of the individual it could be more often,” said Ferguson.

Officials said the program aims to educate those returning from the prison system so they can get a job and be able to support themselves. Inmates from all crime types are open to consideration for this program, except sexual offenders.