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Baltimore City Detention Center Holds First Job Fair for Detainees

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The Maryland Department of Public Safety and Correctional Services is committed to reducing the nearly fifty-percent rate of recidivism among ex-offenders. A big part of this involves providing employment readiness and related services---even at the pretrial level. This fall, the Baltimore City Detention Center held its first annual Job Fair where two dozen potential employers and service providers interacted with 900 detainees who are awaiting trial.

On any given day, Baltimore’s pretrial facilities house more than four thousand men and women who are awaiting trial. Some will be released; others will serve time under Parole and Probation supervision; still others will indeed go to prison, but be out at some point in the future.

Because the vast majority of these people---and all offenders--- will one day be back in society, giving them opportunities to land employment, treatment, and counseling services is critical, not just for them, but for all of us in society, because a successful reentry means a new victim may not be created.

That’s why this fall, the Baltimore City Detention Center (BCDC) held its first annual BCDC Job Fair in the facility gymnasium. Nearly two dozen potential employers and service providers interacted with 900 detainees. It was a huge success, with detainees of all ages showing a genuine interest in turning their lives around, and potential job and service providers, from Goodwill Industries to the Dept. of Human Resources’ Office of Male Initiatives, manning tables and offering assistance.

“This mission is possible,” says BCDC Assistant Warden Gwendolyn Oliver, quoting the title of the first ever job fair. Oliver, who has helped more than 2,200 detainees and inmates find employment during her long career in corrections, put the event together, with a big boost from many others in the Maryland Division of Pretrial Detention and Services, which oversees Central Booking and the Baltimore City Detention Center.

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Evelyn Wood and Dave Eberhardt, who between them have more than 60 years of service running programs for inmates and detainees in the Detention Center (and the old Baltimore City Jail), helped Ms. Oliver organize the program. “A big city jail like ours must draw upon the city's finest resources,” says Eberhardt, who will retire later this year.

Adds Assistant Warden Oliver: “The detainees were very receptive and appreciated the wealth of information, as well as meeting an ex-offender who had traveled the same road, and now is a success story.” Ms. Oliver had made sure to bring in a former offender who learned to play the saxophone in jail, and is now successful in society.

The Maryland Department of Public Safety and Correctional Services is committed to reducing the nearly fifty-percent rate of recidivism among ex-offenders. A big part of this involves providing employment readiness and related services---even at the pretrial level. Congratulations to the Division of Pretrial Detention and Services for the success of its first ever BCDC Job Fair.