This is Rhiannon Burton’s second time in prison, but when she’s released, she says things are going to be different.
“I have a release plan now, and I know what I want,” she says.
Rhiannon plans to study business management and to let go of negative relationships. “I stopped talking to people — even family members — that were toxic for me and put boundaries between us, even though I love them,” she says. “I know I can't go home to the same people.”
She credits the Televerde Foundation’s second chance program and its partners, such as CVS Health®, with providing the tools to help her succeed.
“They set you up with a mentor to make sure you stay on the right track,” Rhiannon says. “They make sure that you have a safe place to go and a job within the first six weeks of being out — and not just a McDonald's job. They help you with a career.”
Making a successful reentry
For over 600,000 formerly incarcerated people who transition from prisons to local communities in the U.S. each year, the opportunity for employment not only improves economic stability, but reduces the likelihood of returning to prison.
Yet, the unemployment rate for formerly incarcerated people is nearly five times higher than that of the general U.S. population. And the label of being “formerly incarcerated” has shown to impact opportunities for Black and Hispanic people — especially women — at an even greater rate.
Lack of access to relevant training to prepare for a successful reentry into the workforce is a major challenge for the second chance population, says Michelle Cirocco, Executive Director for the Televerde Foundation.
“There's a tendency for second chance jobs to be low wage, low skill jobs,” she says. “Providing access to jobs that lead to meaningful careers enables people to become financially independent and take care of their families so that they can stay out of prison forever.”
Based in Phoenix, Arizona Televerde helps currently and formerly incarcerated women. In addition to helping formerly incarcerated women gain employment, the foundation’s flagship six-month reentry program focuses on personal development goals, such as good decision making, healthy relationships, family reunification and overcoming substance abuse, Cirocco says.