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One of the primary needs of people leaving the Hennepin County’s Adult Corrections Facility (ACF) is finding employment. While this is difficult for anyone in the current economy, it can be nearly impossible for a person with a criminal record. Men and women leaving ACF often are at a low literacy level, lack job skills, knowledge about job searching and lacking successful work experience. The Freedom Ticket programs of the Library’s Outreach Library address these needs with a multi-faceted approach to improving skills, expanding knowledge and providing work experience.
Freedom Ticket is a partnership between HCL and the Hennepin County Department of Community Corrections. The goal is to pave the way for ex-offenders to successfully re-enter society. A series of programs, jointly planned between the two county departments, has increased access to information, education and employment opportunities for men and women at ACF. At ACF, HCL presents Job Resource Workshops and the Read to Me parent education program. ACF sends residents in the Private Sector Work Program (PSWP) to work within several libraries, while HCL sends library materials to be processed at the ACF Industry section. HCL and ACF provide expanded Internet access in the ACF Resource Room, which allows residents to search for employment and complete online applications. Combined, these programs give ACF residents a ‘freedom ticket’ to expand access to information, gain skills and experience, and improve their chances of successful re-entry.
2010 Statistics: Job Resource Workshops : 97 residents attended 10 sessions. Read to Me: 144 residents attended 72 sessions. PSWP: 45 residents worked 9529 hours ACF industry processed 67,677 books from Sept 13, 2010 through December 31, 2010. This was almost 20,000 more books than planned from 16 residents who worked 1,001 hours. ACF Resource Room had 120 contact hours per month since April 2010 for 960 contact hours in 2010. Before the network extension, the room averaged 8 residents per week with only 32 contacts per month. Evaluations from all programs indicate that participants are gaining skills, knowledge, and experience to assist with their re-entry.