The United States incarcerates more of its citizens than any other nation in the world — more than 2.2 million nationwide, including 2,088 currently housed at the Pima County jail.
And most of them will be released one day. What happens to those inmates once they leave jail, however, is a concern.
“We don’t want them to be released without anywhere to turn,” said Pima County Adult Detention Complex Captain Joshua Arnold. “Where’s that guy going to end up without any type of help? Well, he’s probably going to end up back in jail.”
While there are programs to help former inmates get back on their feet, Arnold said, there’s always a need for more.
Mayor Jonathan Rothschild recognized this problem early on in his tenure and set up a group to figure out how to address it.
“What we have is a population of folks who made mistakes and have paid for those mistakes,” Rothschild said. “But when they come out, they face hurdles that are very tough.”
This Friday, Rothschild hopes to start breaking down those hurdles during a Second Chance Conference his group is hosting at Pima Community College’s West Campus Building B, at 2202 W. Anklam Road.
The conference is designed offer former inmates help with job training and other issues, explain tax incentives available to employers, and ease some of the concerns employers may have over hiring some one who’s served time.
“A three-year sentence should not be a life sentence,” Rothschild said.
“These are people who can work hard, have some skills and are in a point in their life where they want to change what they’re doing. All they need is an opportunity.”
The free event is open to the public and runs from 11:30 a.m. to 6 p.m.