NEW HAVEN, Conn. (WTNH) — The U.S. Secretary of Labor Thomas Perez made his way to New Haven Monday and spoke with several inmates, saying Connecticut has some of the best programs to help them find jobs after they’re released.
Class was briefly interrupted inside the New Haven Correctional Center by the presidential cabinet member. The inmates were busy learning basic employment skills to help them find a career when released.
“I got 30 days left until I go back out,” said inmate Liam Daly. “I heard about this workshop. It’s the best move I’ve made. One door closes, another opens.”
Perez was joined by Governor Malloy, who was on his fifteenth visit inside a Connecticut jail or prison while in office. The state’s inmate rehabilitation efforts are what lured the labor secretary to town.
“People with a criminal history aren’t someone you should shun. It’s somebody you should give a second chance to,” Perez said.
Perez was also joined by employers who took chances on former inmates, and came to praise the work ethic they found from grateful workers after release.
“I see things that make me tear up inside,” said Jonathan Reyes, a manager at Aerotek, a local staffing and recruiting agency. “Seeing them being there so early, working so hard, making sure they put their best foot forward. Because they know this opportunity probably won’t come again.”
“This is all about making sure we build a community where everybody can realize their best and highest dreams,” Perez said.
The Labor Department funds the job-training program and even goes as far as subsidizing the first several paychecks for ex-offenders during a trial period at their new job. Secretary Perez said one of the best ways to reduce recidivism and save money is to give inmates skills and access to jobs.
“We’re investing millions of dollars into programs that enable more people in the criminal justice system to get skills they need to succeed,” Perez said.
One thing that certainly everybody agrees on is they could use more money. Secretary Perez said he’ll go fight for more funds to keep programs operating.