State lawmakers focusing on job opportunities for inmates

LOWNDES COUNTY, Miss. (WCBI) —  It’s a cycle that happens so often.

Inmates finding their way back into prison.

As the prison door slams shut, so do the opportunities.

There are some work programs in prison, but they don’t always translate to a job once their sentence is over.

State Representative Cheikh Taylor believed employment isn’t the only issue outside the gates of jail.

“There’s two issues that we have,” said Taylor. “Number one, when you incarcerate non-violent offenders with violent offenders, what you find is that, when they are released, they often times become violent offenders outside. But also, when they come out, they do need to have workforce development skills.”

Taylor said those skills are being taught at many community colleges almost every day.

He wanted convicts to have similar training, enabling them to have a career.

“There are mobile welding units that can be shipped near prisons, locals jails and things of that nature, especially here regionally,” Taylor said. “Where they can get onsite skills where they can go out and be gainful employees. And these welders make up to 80 thousand dollars a year. I can guarantee you they won’t re-violate making $80,000 dollars a year.”

At a Monday meeting with area lawmakers, State Representative Kabir Kariem talked about jobs and parole restrictions keeping some inmates in jail.

Kariem believed the Legislative Black Caucus can make progress on these issues in this legislative session.

“We’ll take those concerns we heard today as it relates to MDOC and talk to our caucus and hopefully further our legislation that’s already in progress that we can alleviate some of the overcrowdedness that we have in prison right now,” said Kariem.

Kariem said the Legislative Black Caucus will tour the Mississippi State Penitentiary at Parchman on Friday for a first-hand look at the conditions there.

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