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New program helps prisoners find jobs after release

A new program created by Roger Williams University is helping inmates find and keep jobs once they get out of prison (WJAR)

A new program created by Roger Williams University is helping inmates find and keep jobs once they get out of prison.

About 25 inmates at the ACI graduated from the program, Pivot The Hustle, on Wednesday night.

"Pivot the hustle really means taking the skills that they had employed elsewhere that made them successful and now using those powers for good," said Adriana Dawson, of Roger Williams University.

For instance, prison officials point to some of the skills used by drug dealers that can apply in the workplace.

"You have to know how to attract a client base. You have to get those clients in. You have to make the venture profitable," said Barry Weiner with the Rhode Island Department of Corrections.

As part of the program, graduates from the university's 16-week program learn several skills, including how to write resumes, cover letters and go on job interviews. But those inmates told NBC 10 there's more to the program than that.

"It teaches you a lot about yourself. What you're doing wrong and how to not repeat that behavior," said inmate and program graduate Steven Smiley.

For those skeptical about hiring ex-offenders, consider this: "One out of three adult Americans have been involved in the justice system at one point or another," Weiner said.

The offenders are hopeful prospective employees won't count them out once they're released from prison.

"You want to give me a chance because now I realize my mistakes and I'm going to have to bust my butt harder than the other person sitting right next to me who may not have that record," said inmate and program graduate Jordan Cook.

"Don't shut us out," said John Adams, another prisoner who graduated from the program. "We're hard workers. We've been through a struggle and we figured out how to overcome that struggle."

Prison officials say there are financial benefits to businesses that hire prisoners -- that includes having the federal government pay for a portion of their salary.

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