Individuals on probation or recently released on parole are receiving a second chance to rebuild their lives, due to a new pilot program. CDOT, the Colorado Department of Corrections and the Center for Employment Opportunities (CEO) have hired a number of people with criminal records to work on its bridge structures, clear graffiti, and trim or remove unwanted vegetation.
“As a public agency, we believe it's in the community interest to provide opportunities to people who are trying to re-enter the workforce and build a new life for themselves,” said Kyle Lester, CDOT division of maintenance director. “We're always looking for maintenance help, and this program is a win-win since it helps us maintain our highways and it helps people who need assistance finding employment.”
CEO offers men and women with criminal backgrounds transitional employment and full-time job placement, among other services. CDOT contracts with CEO, which operates the transitional work crews that currently work in and around the Denver area, and along the I-70 corridor, west of Denver.
This year, CEO anticipates preparing more than 150 people in Colorado. More than 5,000 people are provided assistance annually among all of its sites across the country.
“Addressing the employment needs of people with criminal convictions reduces the likelihood of re-incarceration,” said Valerie Greenhagen, CEO Denver County director. “In addition to helping CDOT with its maintenance needs, it helps these men and women build a foundation for a stable, productive life for themselves and their families.”
CDOT anticipates renewing the program when the pilot ends in January 2018. The program was originally set up by the Governor's Office for Community Partnerships in June 2017.