Kay Ivey awards grant to help former inmates get back to work

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Felons find themselves in a tough position when they’re finally released prison: they need a job to get back on their feet, but with their criminal record and lack of experience, they’re usually not on the top of the list for a call-back from a potential employer.

Which is exactly what Alabama Gov. Kay Ivey hopes to change.  On Wednesday, Ivey awarded a $130,870 grant to help former inmates obtain work skills necessary to help them transition back into society and become productive citizens.

The grant will provide funds for the Cut Above the Rest program to continue training ex-offenders and other hard-to-place workers for skills in the construction industry. Funds are being directed to the city of Montgomery which administers the program.

“Alabama inmates who have completed their sentences or have been paroled should have the opportunity to merge back into society as law-abiding individuals who want to earn an honest living,” Ivey said. “I commend the city of Montgomery and the Cut Above the Rest training program for recognizing this need and providing this service.”

The funds will enable the Montgomery-based program to offer live-stream training to locations in Birmingham and Mobile and provide additional resources for more students.

During the six-week training, students are given instruction in job safety, construction tools, construction math, operation of heavy equipment and basic employee skills. The co-educational program also helps to place students with employers once they have completed the program.

Since its beginning in 2014, more than 100 students have completed the course and 93 went on to take construction jobs.

The Alabama Department of Economic and Community Affairs (ADECA) is administering the grant from funds made available by the U.S. Department of Justice.

“This program meets Gov. Ivey’s goals of reducing the prison population and helping Alabamians obtain jobs,” ADECA Director Kenneth Boswell said. “ADECA is pleased to be a partner in this cooperative process.”

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