Lincoln County Sheriff John Cottle was presented with the 2019 MAC County Achievement Award for his Workforce Reentry Program Building Futures at this year’s Missouri Association of Counties conference. His was one of just two programs selected to receive awards at the 48th annual conference.
The Workforce Development Reentry program is designed to help better the lives of incarcerated individuals by teaching much-needed jobs skills, helping them earn Department of Labor Apprenticeship Certification and assisting them in gaining meaningful employment upon release.
“The high cost of recidivism is expensive for county taxpayers. The traditional method of housing local inmates does little for the people of Lincoln County. Many inmates walk out of jail heading down the same path of unemployment or underemployment. The skills they are learning by sitting around, doing nothing all day fail to increase their chances for a stable life. So we are working to change this at the local level,” Sheriff Cottle said, adding that an indirect benefit is ex-offenders who have good-paying jobs with benefits will be able to play their child support and stay off food stamps and other government assistance programs.
This type of programs is typically found in State prisons and not in local county jails. But something else sets this program apart. It’s not just limited to inmates.
The sheriff said the new training facility, which he designed and even helped build, has separate inmate and community training areas. Lincoln County citizens who feel underemployed in their current job can enter into the same training – for free – and upon completion, receive the same higher-paying jobs with benefits.
“This is a huge win for every worker in Lincoln County,” he said.
The funding for the re-entry program, which is offered to all detainees, comes from Missouri’s Workforce Investment Opportunity Act (WIOA) and a pass-through grant received by State Technical College of Missouri.
The other MAC County Achievement Award went to the Cole County Health Department, which was recognized for its work developing partnerships with agencies in order to improve services and provide better health and well-being for members of the Cole County community.