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Amid a workforce shortage, Prince George’s Co. wants you looking here for new employees

Several returning citizens stand alongside local leaders and a Luminis health executive.
Several returning citizens stand alongside local leaders and a Luminis health executive. (Ƶapp/John Domen)
Prince George's County Executive Angela Alsobrooks
Prince George’s County Executive Angela Alsobrooks speaks on the regional initiative to help returning citizens find jobs. (Ƶapp/John Domen)
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Several returning citizens stand alongside local leaders and a Luminis health executive.
Prince George's County Executive Angela Alsobrooks

April has been dubbed “Second Chance Month” in Prince George’s County, Maryland, and leaders there are touting programs that help reintegrate what are known as returning citizens back into society through jobs and housing.

For Bolen Wells, he said the eight years he spent behind bars could have left a lasting stigma that made it hard for him to turn things around and get on the right track again.

“We’re scared to tell our story because we think we’re going to be judged and not receive a good job,” Williams said. “We think we’re going to end up in Taco Bell or Burger King or something like that as opposed to a Luminis Health.”

But Luminis Health is where he works, and he shared his story to loud applause at a Luminis facility in Lanham on Monday, where Prince George’s County leaders urged other businesses around the county to follow suit and make an effort to hire returning citizens.

So far, Luminis has hired about 20 returning citizens, and five more start this week, said CEO Tori Bayless. Those employees will work in various Luminis facilities, which have a heavy concentration in Prince George’s and Anne Arundel counties. Those employees begin receiving training and coaching before they leave prison, but Bayless said it pays off for her company.

“We have early numbers but we have actually seen lower turnover from some of the returning citizens than what we see in the general population,” said Bayless.

Afterward, she explained “we want to be very creative and have novel ways to get people to join our team and not only join the team but stay with the team, give them career opportunities, have advancement opportunities, invest in them so it’s not a place that they want to leave.”

Part of that she said, includes paying employees “well-above” minimum wage.

“We talk about a livable wage and the benefit structure behind it,” she added. “We’re there for the long haul.”

Prince George’s County is also offering incentives to help other businesses take the same chances. It includes up to $5,000 to private sector businesses for every returning citizen they hire.

The county is also offering grant money to organizations that can provide transitional housing for previously incarcerated individuals, with up to $100,000 available.

“We want our businesses to help us in the work and also give a chance, to give a second chance to one of our residents,” said Prince George’s County Executive Angela Alsobrooks. “Ultimately if they are successful, then so is our county and so is our state.”

On top of that, the county also provides grants for nonprofit groups that help returning citizens in other ways, including mental health and substance abuse.

Wells, and also Von Tyler, who served 12 years in prison and now works for the county’s Public Works and Transportation Department, agree that the support they got both in prison and afterward has been instrumental in allowing them to be touted as examples of success post-incarceration.

Tyler has both a welding license and a CDL license, and he’s also working to become a peer recovery specialist.

“I’m hoping with me having that, that I can be able to tap into not only the youth but also into other individuals that are returning citizens,” Tyler said. “Be able to help them when it comes to skills and learning trades and things like that.

“To give them some type of skill set so that they can feel as though they have an opportunity or that they have options,” he added.

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John Domen

John started working at Ƶapp in 2016 after having grown up in Maryland listening to the station as a child. While he got his on-air start at small stations in Pennsylvania and Delaware, he's spent most of his career in the D.C. area, having been heard on several local stations before coming to Ƶapp.

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