Letter: Jail mentoring program continues thanks to council candidate

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Editor, 

The Transitioning Opportunities for Work, Education and Reality Program is a mentoring project designed to help inmates find a job and return to a more stable environment upon their release from jail. Born out of a grant with the U.S. Dept. of Labor, Employment and Training, the TOWER Program started in 2016 and is facilitated within the Hamilton County Jail.

The goal of the grant was to help at least 200 inmates and reduce the jail’s recidivism rate. Funding for the TOWER Program would have ended in December 2018 with a total of 203 inmates helped. However, thanks to the efforts of former Judge Steve Nation and the generosity of local businessman Rocky Shanehsaz, the TOWER Program continues for another six months and possibly beyond.

Like other local businesses in Noblesville, Rocky partners with Hamilton County Community Corrections to employ former inmates as they transition from incarceration to real life, where they often need help finding a job, a place to live and transportation to substance abuse recovery programs and other health services.

In Rocky’s work with Judge Nation and his efforts to learn more about how a truly effective drug rehabilitation program could work, he began employing work-release offenders about five years ago, and he’s hired more than 60 so far. Rocky says his work-release employees have proven to be very reliable and perform well in a system that requires accountability.

In December 2016, Rocky offered $50,000, or six months of funding, for the TOWER Program to continue. The program currently has 10 local volunteers who serve as mentors to 16 inmates in the jail. They meet twice before their release and try to connect at least four times each month after their release. The mentor may take them to job interviews, doctor appointments, AA meetings and even church.

With the first phase of the TOWER Program successfully completed, Rocky wants to use the foundation built by the TOWER Program to create a drug rehabilitation program that really works, right here in Hamilton County.

Rocky has a mind for business and a heart for giving. He likes to give people second chances and help them better their lives. He’s very invested and cares a lot about the people in this community. I support Rocky Shanehsaz for a Noblesville Common Council At-Large seat, and I ask you to join me.

Kelly Gunn, TOWER Program project manager

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