Today the Board of Supervisors approved $2 million in one-time funding for a job training pilot program at the County’s women’s jail, the Century Regional Detention Facility. The program will be based on a study of best practices across the country and the County’s prior experience with a similar pilot at Pitchess Detention Center. It will provide skills training in high-growth industries, as well as soft skills and resume creation to eligible women based on their expected length of stay at CRDF, their personal needs, and their career interest.

A study published by the U.S. Department of Justice found that women often face unique and challenging barriers to employment after serving their sentence, particularly if they are a custodial parent for children. Women are often under- or unemployed, work fewer hours and make less per hour than their male counterparts, and are often stuck in temporary, low-level, or entry-level jobs with little chance for advancement. Not surprisingly, women who are not financially independent are more likely to recidivate. The pilot Job Center at Century Regional Detention Facility will be designed to address the unique barriers to employment faced by women.

Nationwide, unemployment among formerly incarcerated people is exponentially higher than for the general population and is highest within the first two years of release, according to research conducted by the Prison Policy Institute. Pre- and post-release employment services are critical to reduce recidivism and help incarcerated people quickly integrate back into society.

Supervisor Sheila Kuehl, author of the motion said, “Women find that they need to overcome extra barriers because they lack employable skills and may also be the primary caretakers of their children. We can’t expect people to rebuild their lives if they’re not given a fair shot at a steady good-paying job. This pilot program will help women while they are still in custody to overcome at least one of the major barriers that prevent them from building stable, productive lives after they are released.”

“This motion represents a continuation of the County’s work to provide opportunities and resources for incarcerated people preparing to reenter their communities,” said Supervisor Mark Ridley-Thomas, co-author of the motion. “From the County’s creation of the Office of Diversion and Reentry to this Friday’s grand opening of the County’s first Reentry Opportunity Center, our efforts are focused on connecting people with jobs, housing, and supportive services to help them lead lives of dignity and integrity. Establishing this job training pilot also delivers on the County’s promise to embed equity in its programs and services.”