Hamilton County Jail program aims to connect inmates with jobs, mentors

Brandon Collins seeks consistency and stability.

He wants to get his life on track after serving a 70-day sentence in the Hamilton County Jail after his conviction on a charge of operating a vehicle while intoxicated.

Collins, who was released from jail Oct. 5, hopes to turn his life around by landing a good job and receiving help from a mentor who can support him through the challenges inmates often face when leaving jail.

“For the first time in my adult life, I feel like I’m not going to fail,” Collins, 28, told the Indianapolis Business Journal during a jailhouse interview before his release.

Collins is enrolled in a mentoring program called Transitioning Opportunities for Work, Education & Reality — or TOWER — which aims to prepare inmates in the Hamilton County Jail to re-enter the community after serving time. The program, which was launched in January, provides inmates with a mentor who can help connect them to resources in the community. But perhaps most importantly, it also aims to help inmates find work.

With a low unemployment rate in Hamilton County — 2.5% last month — some employers see the inmates as an untapped workforce and are more than willing to give them a chance, helping inmates overcome one of the biggest hurdles they immediately face upon release, said Kelly Gunn, the program’s coordinator.

For more on this story, read the Oct. 11 edition of the Indianapolis Business Journal.

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