The HIRE program linking ex-prisoners to jobs turns 10

INDIANAPOLIS — The program designed to help previously incarcerated Hoosiers find jobs and succeed outside of prison turns 10 on Thursday.

The Hoosier Initiative for Re-Entry or HIRE program operates under the Indiana Department of Corrections and works with clients before and after release.

The program offers different trainings and teaches skills not only to get jobs, but also to succeed in them and also to succeed outside of work.

“A lot of the clients we work with come with… I mean, individuals have varying backgrounds, and often we work with people who have never filled out an application, or never had a real job, n ‘have ever created a resume,’ said Molly Bennett, assistant regional manager for the upstate part with the HIRE program.

“Helping them get that basic understanding of those skills and being able to be prepared so they don’t leave with nothing when they’re outdoors.”

Over the past 10 years, HIRE has connected more than 16,000 formerly incarcerated Hoosiers with jobs. They have worked with over 8,700 different companies across the state. They are also looking to add more.

“One thing that I really push businesses for is to consider customers on a case-by-case basis. It’s not all offenses, just the type of offense that doesn’t describe that individual,” Bennett said.

Talesa Howell attended the program after her release. She got help with things like mock interviews to practice her skills, resume writing, and financial literacy.

She now works for the Department of Corrections as a Systems Analyst Webmaster for the Department of Corrections.

“I didn’t know much about resume writing. It was my biggest thing. And also, how to show up with a crime, right? Howell said.

“So this 10-second elevator speech is hugely important. It’s also extremely important to take your past and turn it into something good that an employer can see.

They also associate them with coordinators to organize individual meetings before and after release. A coordinator she still works with.

“I’ve been away for two years, I can email or pick up the phone to any rental coordinator in or out of my area and they won’t turn me away,” Howell said.

They are also on the verge of connecting clients to job interviews and even job offers while still in a correctional facility.

The event to celebrate their 10th anniversary is scheduled for Thursday at 11 a.m. at the Indiana Statehouse North Atrium.

There will be speakers from the Indiana Department of Corrections as well as others who have gone through the program like Talesa.

Ryan H. Bowman