CDOT providing fresh start for people on parole clearing graffiti and trimming vegetation
DENVER — Individuals on probation or recently released on parole are receiving a second chance to rebuild their lives thanks to a new pilot program.
The Colorado Department of Transportation, in conjunction with the Colorado Department of Corrections and the Center for Employment Opportunities, has hired a number of people with criminal records to work on its bridge structures, clear graffiti, and trim or remove unwanted vegetation.
“As a public agency, we believe it’s in the community interest to provide opportunities to people who are trying to re-enter the workforce and build a new life from themselves,” said CDOT Division of Maintenance Director Kyle Lester. “We’re always looking for maintenance help and this program is a win-win since it helps us maintain our highways and it helps people who need assistance finding employment.”
The Center for Employment Opportunities offers men and women with criminal backgrounds transitional employment and full-time job placement, among other services. CDOT contracts with the center, which operates the transitional work crews that currently work in and around the Denver area and along the Interstate 70 corridor, west of Denver.
This year, Center for Employment Opportunities anticipates preparing more than 150 people in Colorado. More than 5,000 people are provided assistance annually among all of its sites across the country.
“Addressing the employment needs of people with criminal convictions reduces the likelihood of re-incarceration,” said Center for Employment Opportunities Denver County Director Valerie Greenhagen. “In addition to helping CDOT with its maintenance needs, it helps these men and women build a foundation for a stable, productive life for themselves and their families.”
CDOT anticipates renewing the program when the pilot ends in January 2018. The program was originally set-up by the Governor’s Office for Community Partnerships in June 2017.