How the Trades Are Helping Women Succeed After Prison

The Trades Related Apprenticeship Coaching program is helping the incarcerated quickly find good-paying construction jobs at firms that will employ people with prison records.

Open Campus

January 18, 2024

2 Min Read

A year after being released from prison, three out of four people are unemployed. But the day after Brittany Wright, 30, got out in June, she was reporting to work.

Thanks to a program that trains incarcerated women in well-paying trades, she had the skills and connections she needed to start a job at Kiewit, a Seattle construction and engineering firm. Now, six months later, she’s earning $31 per hour working on a light rail expansion project for Sound Transit.

The 16-week state program, called Trades Related Apprenticeship Coaching, or TRAC, helps combat a monumental challenge incarcerated people face when they reenter society: quickly finding jobs with decent wages in fields that will actually employ people with prison records.

Wright, a cement mason apprentice, said that because of TRAC, she has a clear path forward and her finances in check—an enormous improvement over her situation when she emerged from a previous prison sentence a decade ago.

“The last time, I just got out,” she said. “Everything was so much harder: Finding a job was harder, getting my life together was harder, finding a place to live was harder. All of these things that you would do to reenter society just took a long time.”

Wright and other formerly incarcerated people have an almost five times greater likelihood of being unemployed than other adults, the Prison Policy Initiative estimates. The unemployment rate among formerly incarcerated individuals is also 27%, greater than the highest general unemployment rate during both the Great Depression and the 2008 recession. 

Formerly incarcerated people who do find jobs earn only around half of the wages of the average worker, with even greater disparities for Black, Native American and Latino people, according to the Prison Policy Initiative. In some industries, such as health care, people with felonies or specific types of convictions are often banned altogether.

To read the rest of this story from Open Campus click here.

About the Author(s)

Subscribe to get the latest information on products, technologies and management.
Join our growing community and stay informed with our free newsletters.

You May Also Like