Russell DuBose of Phifer Incorporated and Brad Newman of ZF Chassis Systems present challenges and successes involving the Prisoner Re-entry Program at the Alabama Works Conference in April 2019.

The Prison Re-entry Program (PREP) of West Alabama is a partnership among West Alabama Works, Lifelink, LLC, the Alabama Department of Corrections and West Alabama employers. With an extremely low unemployment rate in Tuscaloosa County, but an ever rising need for capable and reliable employees, leaders in business and industry have turned to alternate means for finding workers, creating the PREP program.

The PREP program combines Ready-to-Work, a five-week course in interview and soft skills offered at Shelton State Community College and other community colleges in Alabama, with CORE, a character development program facilitated by LifeLink LLC. Inmates are selected for the program based on behavior and sentence length.

Program participants complete the CORE program first, which lasts 18 months. Then, they enroll in Ready-to-Work coursework and vocational skills for six months. Once the participant is eligible for parole, the program graduate will interview for employment.

In addition to providing employment, PREP helps participants re-integrate into society. Many participants may have been in the Department of Corrections System for over 10 years and face barriers upon release, such as housing and transportation. Business sponsors help ease this transition through housing and transportation assistance and life-skills coaching.

The Department of Corrections has touted this program as one of the biggest change makers they’ve seen. If you’re interested in getting involved with PREP, please email Lauren Collier at [email protected]