In 2022, the Biden Administration declared April as Second Chance Month. In an official Proclamation, the White House dedicated the month to reaffirming the importance of helping people who have served time as they try to get back into society. More than 70 million Americans have a criminal record, and more than 640,000 people are released from State and Federal prisons all over the United States.
The Greenbrier Companies understands the often-difficult nature of reintegration and the barriers our formerly incarcerated neighbors face as they’re released to rebuild their lives. In keeping with the company’s core value of Respect for People, some facilities have partnered with county governments to help.
Greenbrier Marmaduke in Arkansas partners with staffing agencies and rehabilitation centers to help people get back on their feet once they are released. Rehabilitation centers help residents find a job and a home while saving money to leave the center. Greenbrier offers work to those residents interested in temporary and permanent positions with the company.
“Marmaduke’s second chance program is just that… It’s a second chance for individuals who have struggled with issues in their life that led them to one of our many local rehabilitation centers. It offers an opportunity to gain full-time employment at a good job, with great benefits, making enough money to enable a single parent to care for their family,” said Amanda Robins, Marmaduke Training Assistant.
Greenbrier Marmaduke Safety Administrator Lloyd Turner is one recipient of a second chance. Turner has worked with Greenbrier for 11 years and has been drug-free for 16. He says upon his release, he learned quickly that many industries will turn their back on applicants with pasts similar to his.
“At that time the plant manager interviewed anyone interested in employment with the company,” Turner said. “I told him. Before we go any further, I have had a drug addiction. I’ve been drug-free for a year. I have a prison sentence. I am a felon, and if that is an issue, I do not want to waste your time.“
Turner says he was hired on the spot for his honesty and has been with Greenbrier ever since. His team members at the Marmaduke plant has nothing but high praise for him and are proud to say they work with him.
Robins says she earned her position at Greenbrier through a second chance program. She says, “I loved everything about working here and started learning as much as possible. I took every opportunity available to get involved in different aspects of the company.” After seeing the benefits of the program, Robins reached out to Human Resources to expand it.
The best part of such programs is seeing them work and change lives, according to Robins. She says one participant thrived in the program and eventually moved on to work for another organization closer to where she lives. “Even if the majority of these individuals leave this company, they leave here with a sense of accomplishment and knowing that they are capable of creating a better life for themselves,” Robins says. “The ones that stay are eager to learn, hungry for a sense of belonging, and determined to do the best that they can.”
“The traits that I see among the second chance employees is their work ethic. Just the thought of getting another opportunity to make things right,” Lewis says. “Being given the opportunity to not only have a job, but have a career.“
Most recently, Greenbrier Marmaduke partnered with Together Arkansas on a video to display the benefits of second chance programs.
In December 2020, Greenbrier Paragould partnered with the Greene County Detention Work Center, a minimum-security facility in Paragould, Arkansas, and began participating in the Greene County Work Release Program.
One of the challenges for newly released inmates is avoiding returning to drug use and crime. It is in the best interest of corrections and communities to provide good transitioning services, such as the Work Release Program, to help inmates return successfully to their communities. The program offers employment to individuals in confinement and provides them with the opportunity for positive change in their lives.
Participating in work release programs provides many benefits to employers. Since participants work in the community, there is a careful selection process of eligible participants, removing violent or high-risk individuals from the program. Furthermore, a thorough criminal background check is conducted before an inmate is approved for work release.
The Work Release Program provides many benefits to inmates and the community. It gives the inmates a chance to establish a foundation to build on when they are released from confinement. While serving sentences, participants maintain regular employment, allowing them to pay for family support, fines, court costs, taxes and restitution. Being able to make these payments while in confinement places them in a better financial situation so that when released, returning to a life of crime can be avoided.
Senior Vice President of Manufacturing Operations William Krueger says he believes employers of all sizes should open doors to all people, especially those looking to right the wrongs of their past and work toward a better future for themselves and their communities.
“It’s a win-win-win,” Krueger says. “We win as a company because we get a dedicated hard worker. The employee wins because they get a chance to earn a living and have pride in their work. The community also benefits from having an individual that’s contributing and being a participant in society.“
Robins agrees that the program offers many benefits and highlights Greenbrier’s values. “This program is the epitome of Respect for People. We respect that everyone comes from a different place and no two stories are alike. We embrace those differences and welcome them.”
Read the White House Proclamation for Second Chance month.
For resources to help others with criminal records looking for work, see the National Reentry Resource Center.