Indiana parolees find success, employment after prison

Most people in Indiana’s parole program are finding jobs after their release from prison despite having felony convictions, the program’s director says.

About 80 percent of Indiana residents on parole have found employment, and most of those who fail on parole haven’t found a job or have their parole revoked because they use drugs and refuse treatment, said Indiana Parole Division Director Doug Huyvaert.

An average of 100 to 150 people have their parole revoked every month, or about 2 percent of the state’s 6,000 parolees, he said.

“We make it clear parole is not easy,” Huyvaert told The Herald-Times of Bloomington. “And that they will be held accountable.”

Inmates being released from prison typically leave with just a new set of clothes and some cash to help them find temporary housing. Parole officers will refer inmates to a variety of services to help with substance abuse, mental health and employment.

Parole officers also work with the state’s Department of Workforce Development to ensure inmates receive job training during their incarceration. Classes include manufacturing, welding, computer coding and automotive technology.

The state’s Hoosier Initiative for Re-Entry program helped more than 1,000 ex-offenders find jobs last year.

“Parole has gotten to the point that the people released are not just finding a job, but a decent-paying job — entry-level jobs at $11 an hour that can go up to $16 an hour,” Huyvaert said. “The jobs are there, the kind that provide self-esteem and pride.”

Indiana has seen a large drop in parolee numbers over the past five years, which is largely attributed to a change in state law that requires individual counties to house low-level felony offenders in local jails rather than sending them to a state prison. County-employed probation officers oversee inmates who are released from jail.

In the Bloomington district, which covers 10 counties, there were 585 people on parole in January 2014.

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