Pilot program offers careers for convicted felons in South Carolina

March 22, 2022

Pilot program offers careers for convicted felons in South Carolina

by Tonya Brown

PEE DEE, S.C. (WPDE) — The ‘Energy Industry Second Chance Pilot Program’ is an initiative designed to help people who were incarcerated to gainful employment or reentry into the workforce while helping to grow the energy industry’s workforce of tomorrow, according to a news release from the South Carolina Department of Corrections (SCDC) and Duke Energy.

SCDC and Duke Energy held a news conference Tuesday in Florence to talk about the program.

The program was developed by Lewis Tree Service in partnership with SCDC and professional services firm DESA, through the organization’s nonprofit arm Joseph’s Outreach, and the REEMERGE program, funded by the U.S. Department of Commerce Minority Business Development Agency.

REEMERGE is a 12 month reintegration program committed to helping formerly incarcerated citizens manage the reintegration process. They assist clients with employment options, identification, expungements, and basic job readiness skills. They also utilize coaching, training, and entrepreneurship sessions to help participants earn a living wage or attain business ownership.

DESA, Inc. says it is a leading professional services firm headquartered in Columbia, South Carolina. Founded in 1986 by Diane E. Sumpter, has partnered with federal, state and local governments, non-profit organizations, educational institutions and private businesses throughout the U.S.

The ‘Energy Industry Second Chance Pilot Program’ began as an in-prison, paid employment and re-entry program for four inmates.

Lewis Tree Service began the utility vegetation management training at Wateree River Correctional Institution two weeks prior to an inmate’s release.

In early March, participants were released to continue training with entry-level jobs in Florence.

The Duke Energy Foundation “supplied grant funding to the initiative that provides the support and wrap-around services needed to ensure the participants success and help them adapt from prison to the workforce and be reintegrated into society. “

The supplies include transportation, meals, transitional housing and required work clothing.


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