A Colorado organization is helping formerly incarcerated people get back on their feet.
DenverWorks helps people "with barriers to employment to become self-supporting through job preparation and placement."
Dominic Gardner is one of those people.
Just over a year ago, Gardner was released from a correctional facility.
DenverWorks helped him get the credentials he needed to find a job. It also offered classes that helped him learn job skills.
Today, he's teaching those classes.
"I come to work every day excited. I come to work every day knowing that I'm having an impact," Gardner said.
That's a huge shift from the way he felt when he first left the correctional facility. He didn't know where to turn next.
"I was literally maybe a few days out of the Denver City Jail, completely homeless, no credentials at all as far as my identity," he said.
He quickly found out that you need credentials to get credentials.
"Metro PCS or Boost Mobile, they won't give you a phone without an ID now," Gardner said. "Well, I need this phone to get a job and to order my documents."
Gardner stumbled upon DenverWorks when a probation officer told him about programs to help him get back on his feet.
"I went there and I had a place to go to get my ID voucher or birth certificate ordered," he said. "I was signed up for food stamps in the office, and I was coming into a career course the next day."
DenverWorks hosts job fairs every two weeks.
Before Garnder knew it, he was employed and able to take care of himself.
"Someone gets released from prison, they really don't have much to their name, they get maybe a bus pass," said Clay McCombe, site director for DenverWorks. "If they're lucky [they get] a polo shirt, a pair of ugly khakis, and they're told to, you know, make it and don't break the law."
McCombe works with many formerly incarcerated people who have to adhere to strict probation terms like paying restitution, meeting with their probation officer, maintaining employment, and not breaking laws.
McCombe says helping people adhere to their probation requirements ultimately helps them get back on their feet. Refusing to help formerly incarcerated people, on the other hand, could lead to more crime in the long run.
"Not giving someone a chance to earn an income in a legal way like the rest of society— you're forcing them into situations where there are crimes of desperation happening. Crimes of survival," he said.
Support could be an important component in preventing recidivism.
The 2022 Colorado Recidivism Study states that if people don't successfully complete their probation term “…most adults are given a jail sentence and juveniles are sentenced to either the Division of Youth Services (DYS) or juvenile detention.”
Gardner says that the services provided by DenverWorks could be useful to many Coloradans, even those who don't think they need them.
"It takes one paycheck missed for many people who are making this judgment and having this bias," Gardner said. "One paycheck missed— one crisis. And you could be that person who needs who needs shelter, housing, clothing."
In addition to job assistance, DenverWorks also offers clothing and haircuts.
Gardner says those changes on the outside can complement changes happening on the inside.
"Instilling the confidence in them that they can be self-sufficient, and independent, and that they are capable, and that they are valuable. Sometimes it's the biggest benefit that we give our participants," Gardner said.
You can reach DenverWorks by calling 303-433-0300 or by clicking here.