At SCI Waymart, the 2020 Reentry Job Fair was canceled hours before it was scheduled to begin on March 11, 2020. After more than a year of waiting and months of planning, the 2021 Virtual Reentry Job Fair was delivered to inmates statewide June 21-25.
Executive Assistant for Reentry Lacosta Mussoline organized the sessions, and institutions organized the staffing and participation schedules. Sessions were broken out based on region and special interests, and inmates prepared by watching videos and receiving information prior to the week-long event.
Participants not only received valuable information on employment, industry training, health and human services and region-specific resources, but many participants experienced virtual communication for the first time. Most had never participated in a Google Teams event. They saw how the chat function worked, witnessed how presenters from different locations could be on the screen at the same time and saw how presenters shared their screen with the participants.
Inmates also heard, repeatedly, that as reentrants they need to take the initiative to contact the resources available to them and once the initial contact is made, trained staff will help them pursue their goals.
Drug and alcohol treatment specialists, psychology, counseling, education, security, IT and administrative staff worked together to ensure that as many inmates as possible could participate in the sessions. Those unable to participate will be able to view the session on the inmate channel in the coming weeks.
Feedback from inmates and staff at Waymart has been positive. Thanks to this event, inmates will leave the state prison system better informed about the many opportunities and services available to them and their loved ones.