Ideas

Former Prisoners Are Rebuilding Their Lives By Rehabbing Homes

This program gets former prisoners working again and teaches them valuable skills at the same time.

It’s not often that you hear someone say that they are thankful for being put in prison, but this is true in the case of Vincent Stith Jr. He is grateful to have been put in jail and grateful to be back on the right track.

“It was the grace of God that put me in jail this time,” Stith told WCPO. “If not, the way people are dying now, I could be six feet under.”

Stith along with 30 other former inmates are part of the Jubilee Project in Cincinnati, Ohio. A program run through the United Methodist church helps former prisoners get back on their feet through work and on-the-job training. Now clean of heroin for 18 months, Stith is working to become a master electrician.

WCPO

“It’s very difficult right when they get out to find an employer who can work with them,” Pastor Thomas Hargis, the founder of the Jubilee Project, said. A former prison warden, Hargis knows that finding work is an important piece of getting started in life after prison.

The Jubilee Project currently employs about 30 ex-prisoners to rehab homes. Through the organization, the former prisoners learn skills they can take with them to future jobs. The program has become so popular that there’s even a waiting list. Here’s the Jubilee Project’s mission, per its website:

We take a house nobody wants.

We hire people in the community that are deemed “unhirable.”

The house becomes a job training lab that helps people learn valuable job skills.

The house is sold to a member of the community caught in the cycle of renting at ZERO % interest.

We take the money from the sale and go get another house. We spread Jubilee.

“That’s taking something and giving it back the life and making it a little better than it was before,” Hargis said. This is true of both the homes they are working on and the lives of the former prisoners that Hargis is striving to change.