New Job Training Program at Monroe County Jail to Reduce Recidivism Rate

HENRIETTA, N.Y. -- Of those who serve time in the Monroe County Jail, up to 50 percent will be back at one time or another, according to those who work with inmate rehabilitation.

"Sometimes it takes a couple of tries to have that change take hold," said Ed Ignarri, Monroe County Jail rehabilitation director. "We work on trying to provide the opportunity for folks to change."

A new program began at the jail last week called RochesterWorks Re-entry Connection. The employment and job training firm established an American Job Center within the correctional facility on East Henrietta Road. It's intended to help those like Shantel Nilsson, who's back in jail for the third time, to find steady work once they're released.

"Hopefully so when I leave up out of here I'll have a better way to get a job so I don't have to come back here," Nilsson said. "I think that's my biggest goal not to come back."

It's a two year program funded by a $500,000 grant from the United States Department of Labor. One hundred inmates are selected to participate.

It's more than just preparing them for a job opening. Inmates go through a five-step employment training services program teaching them important job skills along with find things about themselves they may not be aware of.

"To be able to teach them the employment skills then looking at the values that they have as individuals, which is a core thing, so that if they wind up getting a job and for some reason it doesn't work out, they know that they still have good other skills that they can use and apply to other places too," said Peter Shaw of RochesterWorks!

Jamie Oberdorf is two months into a nine-month sentence for petit larceny. Since beginning this training a week ago, Jamie's found she's not an easy person to get along with. She likes being alone, but realizes she'll have to get along with others when she gets out and returns to the workforce.

"You realize that you have no choice but to get along with other people," Oberdorf said. "You have to do it, it's something we all have to deal with, we don't have that option of being alone all the time."

Oberdorf says she'd like to work in the service industry. Shantel wants to be a dog groomer, as she says it's something she's done for 14 years. Both say they're ready to turn the page.

"Definitely prove that I am a trustworthy person and that I don't need to be doing stuff to bring me back in here,"Oberdorf said.

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