In keeping with Tarrant County College’s commitment to serving the community, the College is partnering with the Tarrant County Jail, Tarrant County Commission Roy C. Brooks’ office, Cornerstone Assistance Network’s Reentry 1st Stop Center for Tarrant County, Tarrant County Probation and the EnVision Center of Fort Worth to encourage low-level, non-violent offenders to start thinking about what is next before they are released from jail.
“With the collective efforts of our committed partners and the determination of the incarcerated individuals themselves, the Next Phase Program is firmly focused on facilitating economic and social mobility,” said TCC South President Dan Lufkin. “Our shared aspiration is to enhance the lives of program participants, their families, and the broader community.”
Tarrant County Precinct 1 Commissioner Roy Charles Brooks praised Tarrant County College and the Tarrant County’s Sheriff’s Office for making this partnership happen.
“I congratulate President Dan Lufkin and Sheriff Bill Waybourn for this unique collaboration aimed at providing education and reentry services to certain Tarrant County jail inmates,” Brooks said. “This is the kind of partnership that can be very successful in providing second chances to those who are in need of second chances.”
Andre Johnson, director of the Cornerstone Assistance Network Reentry 1st Stop Center for Tarrant County, said, “We’re excited to be a part of this groundbreaking work, that’s creating opportunities for the Reentry community to advance in pre- and post-release.”
There are currently 3,000 inmates in Tarrant County jails with a current recidivism rate of 57 percent. That means thousands of individuals who are unable to support themselves and their families and contribute to society due to incarceration. Additionally, thousands of children are impacted due to the absence of one or more of their parents.
Through the Next Phase Program, low-level, non-violent offenders can start to take classes while in jail and finish upon release. The classes are paired with intentional case management support with a transition plan that follows students from the time they sign up through the completion of their certificate and support to locate and prepare for employment opportunities.
“Tarrant County Community Supervision and Corrections Department (CSCD) is excited to be a partner in this endeavor,” said CSCD director Cobi Tittle. “Reentry programs are vital to the success of justice-involved individuals. The research overwhelmingly supports employment as a contributing factor in the success of those sentenced to probation. Some studies suggest that employed probationers are 10 times more likely to complete probation than those who are unemployed. The Next Phase Program will teach job skills that will help justice-involved individuals gain the employment needed to be successful in the community.”
Students accepted into the program will be able to choose from a Welding Level I, Business Level I, or an Office Professionals program they can finish in months. With the certificate in Welding, students will be able to get a job as a welding helper. A Business or Office Professional focus can lead to a career as an administrative assistant, receptionist, general office assistant, or work in Human Resources. These careers offer financial stability, something with which offenders often struggle.
While two-thirds of people who enter the criminal justice system report an income of less than $12,000, salary ranges are $40,000 to $63,000 for welding careers and $35,000 to $54,000 for business or office professional careers.