As part of the continuing effort to reduce recidivism rates among the Hamilton County Jail's inmate population, Sheriff Mark Bowen and Jail Commander Jason Sloderbeck announced Monday the start of a new program aimed at assisting inmates with finding employment after incarceration.

Partnering with WorkOne Center, an Indiana workforce development organization, the Hamilton County Jail obtained funding to provide employment services to serve selected sentenced inmates who are within 180 days of being released from jail. Inmates desiring to break the cycle of incarceration and to change behaviors to a more productive lifestyle now have a new option to assist them.

The Transitioning Opportunities for Work, Education, and Reality (TOWER) program provides inmates with career and job skills designed to increase chances of long term employment. According to Captain Sloderbeck, "With employment being a major factor in reducing recidivism, the career services p rogram will help reduce the jail's population and allow quicker reentry into jobs and productivity for released inmates."

TOWER consists of five weeks of workshops totaling 25 hours. During sessions, participants learn important life and career skills such as searching for jobs, crafting a resume, writing a cover letter, completing an employment application, conducting an interview, dressing for success, and following-up on an interview. Classes, held inside the jail, are facilitated by two onsite Career Coaches, Cassie Owen Mata and Tori Thorlton. Upon release from the Hamilton County Jail, class graduates transition to a local WorkOne office for continued assistance with life and job skills outside the correctional environment. A mentoring component may be added as part of TOWER as the program progresses.

The TOWER program is funded by a federal grant provided by the U.S. Department of Labor, Employment, and Training. Funds provide for two Career Coaches at the Hamilton County Jail over an 18 month period, during which an estimated 200 inmates are expected to participate in the program. Fifteen inmates enrolled in the initial TOWER sessions begun on April 10, 2017.

Area businesses and organizations interested in more information or employing graduates of the TOWER program should contact Cassie Owen Mata at or Captain Jason Sloderbeck at the Hamilton County Jail. The Region 5 Workforce Board, Inc. is a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization directing and overseeing the use of public resources within the WorkOne Workforce system in central Indiana. All programs are Equal Opportunity.