Some of the newest students at Georgia Piedmont Technical College reside in a high-rise less than two miles away. But the towering building is not one of luxury.

It is the DeKalb County jail, and these nine inmates are the first to participate in a job training initiative to make sure they never return…

Eric Cochling, executive vice president and general counsel of the Georgia Center for Opportunity, applauded the initiative.

Cochling’s organization is a non-profit think tank that has focused on making it easier for ex-offenders to re-enter the workforce. It notes that roughly half-a-million Georgians are either incarcerated or under parole or probation and there are millions more with criminal records that could make it difficult to get jobs.

“If you truly want to help returning citizens avoid recidivism, the best thing you can do is training them for work they can do immediately,” Cochling said.

He said that recidivism drops by two-thirds when a person can find and keep a job for at least six months after leaving jail or prison. “There is really no other intervention that has that kind of impact.”

The idea that they’re trying to give practical skills that are in demand in the market, that is exactly the kind of thinking that we need across the board when we think about the men and women who are coming out of prison and even jail,” Cochling said.

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