JobStart helps released prisoners transition to work - WNCN: News, Weather

JobStart helps released prisoners transition to work

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RALEIGH, N.C. -

Ten women say they are ready to leave their criminals pasts behind and start a new life outside of prison walls.

The women graduated Thursday from the North Carolina Department of Corrections' JobStart, a program that takes a targeted approach to prison-to-work transition planning.

"We did mock interviews that really helped," explained Crystal Little. "Resumes -- I never did a resume before."

But JobStart goes beyond the resume and teaches women life skills.

"They are drug addicted in many cases, they have been abused in many cases, they have very co-dependent relationships," said Mary Ray, with Inter-Faith Prison Ministry for Women. "We have to teach them to have good relationships."

Little said the program's mentors helped mend her relationship with her daughter, who was just an infant when she went to prison.

"I only cared about money, sex, drugs, men and alcohol1," Little said of life before her time at the Raleigh Correctional Center for Women. She said the program "helped me understand [my daughter's] emotions -- really brought us together."

The courses are taught by a Wake Tech instructor run for 16 weeks at First Presbyterian Church in Raleigh, and trained volunteers serve as one-on-one mentors, presenters and community volunteer sponsors for inmates.

Through the program, the women earned credits at Wake Tech.

About 240 women have graduated from JobStart since it began 13 years ago.

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