New Orleans RTA enters second phase of its second chance hiring initiative with visit to Louisiana State Penitentiary program

May 12, 2022
The program provides training for non-violent releasing individuals who successfully complete the requirements and trial employment at New Orleans RTA, which can transition into full-time employment.

The New Orleans Regional Transit Authority (RTA) has entered the second phase of its second chance efforts to recruit bus mechanics and technicians with a visit by New Orleans RTA CEO Alex Wiggins to the Louisiana State Penitentiary’s Automotive Service Excellence (ASE) and I-CAR Automobile Industry-Based Certification (IBC) programs.

New Orleans RTA entered a partnership with JOB1 Career Solutions last December to provide On the Job Training (OTJT) training for non-violent releasing individuals who successfully complete the requirements of the Louisiana State Penitentiary’s IBC programs. New Orleans RTA explains it will hire bus mechanics and body repair technician trainees, both at $23.67 per hour, up to 40 hours per week for a six-month trial period. After a six-month period, successful participants will transition to permanent employees with the agency.

“RTA’s workforce is the backbone of the organization, and it is important that we build a progressive workforce pipeline that can help citizens reentering society,” said Wiggins. “We remain committed to working with JOB1 and the Louisiana Workforce Commission to ensure highly skilled individuals can earn competitive wages to support their families, reduce recidivism, and improve their overall quality of life.”

The JOB1 OTJT partnership is available through the Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act, which is coordinated through the Louisiana Workforce Commission. New Orleans RTA will be reimbursed 50 percent of the participants/trainee’s regular hourly wage excluding payment hours not worked for sick, vacation, holiday, lunch, personal, jury duty, and overtime hours up to a maximum of 40 hours per week as a participant in the program. The authority says it will compensate participants with equivalent wages and benefits afforded regular employees.

“The RTA Board of Commissioners is proud of the RTA's progressive initiatives in developing the region's workforce, with a special focus on restorative justice," stated RTA Board Chair Flozell Daniels, Jr. "As one of the leading public sector agencies in the region, we must continue to invest in our people by fairly employing individuals in our community with thriving pay and benefits to support their households and the regional economy.”

Retired Judge Arthur Hunter shared 96 percent of the people who enter prison will be released.

“If we want them released better people rather than better criminals and taxpayers rather than tax takers, then reentry programs must be expanded and employers must make the investment to allow people the opportunity to take care of themselves, their families and make our city safe,” said Judge Hunter.

Louisiana’s Reentry Court program was legislatively authorized in 2012 and operate in conjunction with the state’s Department of Corrections. The first two Reentry Court programs were designed to provide non-violent incarcerated individuals with an opportunity to acquire vocational skills while participating in rehabilitative programs and job/social skills training during incarceration at Louisiana State Penitentiary and Louisiana Correctional Institute for Women.

“Through the Reentry Court and the vocational training inside our prisons, we have been able to prepare hundreds of releasing incarcerated individuals for high-skilled, high-paying jobs upon release,” said Department of Corrections Secretary Jimmy Le Blanc. “We are excited about this partnership with RTA and the prospects of providing gainful employment for our releasing individuals. These types of jobs ensure the ability to earn a living-wage salary that will pay the bills and sustain quality of life that will reduce recidivism.”

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