Describes the strategies that workforce development agencies used to overcome space and scheduling challenges associated with implementation of jail-based American Job Centers under the Linking to Employment Activities Pre-release grants.

“This issue brief…explores lessons from the planning phase of the Linking to Employment Activities Pre-release (LEAP) grants. Funded by the U.S. Department of Labor, Employment and Training Administration, LEAP pilots the creation of jail-based American Job Centers (AJCs) to support the successful reentry of participants and directly link them to community-based AJCs upon release” (p.1).

“Workforce development agencies must navigate jail spaces and inmate schedules to provide…AJC…services effectively to inmates transitioning back to the community. The rules guiding the use of jail space and the scheduling of inmate activities can be complex and vary considerably based on each jail’s structure, security level, reentry focus, and existing programming” (p.1). Sites must “weigh the need to adhere to security requirements with the desire to create a suitable space—that is, one conducive to learning and employment preparation” (p.1). “This brief discusses how LEAP workforce development staff worked with jail administrators to gain access to jail space and their strategies for scheduling services inside the jail-based AJC. It relies on data gathered through site visits to eight LEAP sites during the planning period for LEAP, as well as tours of all 20 jail-based AJCs being implemented by grantees” (p.1).  

Note that this issue brief is one in a series of five briefs that explore lessons from the early stages of LEAP.

(Abstractor: Author and Website Staff)

Full publication title: Structuring Employment-Based Services Within Jail Spaces and Schedules Issue Brief—Early Lessons from LEAP

Major Findings & Recommendations

“The particular facility or area within the facility where the jail-based AJC was located, along with its associated reentry focus and security level, significantly influenced the development of the AJC, the process for participants to access the space, and the negotiations around scheduling of AJC services” (p.1). Several lessons emerged: • “The jails’ security level and reentry focus influenced the availability of appropriate space” (p.1). • Most grantees did not have a choice in the space allocated for the AJC; however, those grantees who did had to consider proximity to the target population, whether or not the inmates needed escorts, and the financial implications (p.1) when selecting a space. • “Jail-based AJCs were often located in or adjacent to housing units and/or educational areas” (p.1). • “Jail areas intended for reentry programming needed little remodeling. Jail-based AJCs located in spaces not intended for reentry programming had to undergo various renovations, including replacing old furniture, painting, and wiring for computer and Internet access” (p.2). “Early onsite time with jail leadership and staff was critical for understanding space and scheduling parameters, assessing what was feasible, and making necessary adjustments” (p.1). “In addition to being affected by the jails’ existing layout, security level, and reentry focus, specific policies and restrictions also influenced how the jail-based AJC space could be configured, operated, and utilized” including personalization of space, supplies, escorts and monitoring, and procedures (p.2). “Securing the buy-in of corrections officers was just as important as buy-in from jail administrative staff, given the considerable logistics involved with inmate movement and the complexity of daily jail schedules” (p.1). “Integrating AJC services into jail operations and inmate schedules required flexibility…and coordination. This made it important to gain the buy-in of correctional officers…” (p.3). The following were critical considerations: • “Jail social service or programming coordinators often helped to schedule services” (p.3). • “AJC programming needed to account for other aspects of jail life” (p.3). • “Staff need to be flexible in the face of unanticipated events” (p.3). • “Restrictions on inmate interaction further complicated scheduling,” and may require scheduling services in cohorts (e.g. males or females) (p.3). (Abstractor : Author and Website Staff)