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Accelerate Series: Cary Sanders

Posted by: Brittney Kessler on Tuesday, February 27, 2018


For 2018, Accelerate has a renewed focus on workforce development. With that comes the task of removing barriers. One of those barriers is workforce re-entry for non-violent offenders. For this month’s blog we reached out to Cary Sanders, Inside Program Director for Jump Start, a 501c3 non-profit in South Carolina that exists for the purpose of reducing recidivism in our state. Recidivism refers to “a person’s relapse into criminal behavior, often after the person receives sanctions or undergoes intervention for a previous crime”.

On almost every job application nationwide, there is a section for applicants to answer if they have a criminal history. In many industries a felony, even if the offense is years old, is reason enough to not hire a job candidate. Most consider post-release employment as one of the most important elements for an ex-offender to successfully transition back into the community after incarceration. The average annual cost to incarcerate an individual is $31,286. In the state of South Carolina, the annual cost per inmate is $18,119. With over 20,000 inmates in South Carolina as of September 2016, that is an annual cost of $379,919,192.

Cary is living proof that some offenders deserve a second chance. Some of the benefits of partnering with Jump Start are the following:

  • They provide drop-off and pick-up services for work outsourced
  • They provide ongoing training to educate participants about the do’s & don’ts of the workplace such as adhering to rules and following the leadership of their superior(s)
  • They have a recidivism rate of less than 4%Jump Start’s results seem to indicate individuals who receive a second chance are grateful for the opportunity and willing to go the extra mile to prove themselves.
  • Accelerate is continually advocating for policy changes at federal, state, and local levels to increase labor market participation. We’re encouraging businesses to accept referrals from Greenville’s Work-Ready Certification Board and working to facilitate business engagement on transportation and housing. On the national level, the Second Chance Act was signed by President Bush on April 9th, 2008. Since that time, nearly 500 Second Chance Act grants have been awarded to state, local, and tribal government agencies in 48 states totaling nearly $250 million in grants. The employment component is very essential in helping the participants’ transition from prison to becoming a productive member of society.

Jump Start Success Story - At 22 years old, Vinny was sentenced to 13 years in the Department of Corrections for drug distribution. During his time of incarceration, Vinny took advantage of Jump Start, obtained a GED, and certification for HVAC work. Once released, he worked for Custom Forest Products, a Jump Start business partner that began a relationship with Jump Start by hiring one participant. Now the company has over 25 Jump Start participants and former participants on their team. After a few years working for this company, Vinny began working with Grace Church in their facilities maintenance department. Over the past five years, Vinny has gotten married, had a daughter, purchased a home, and is a productive member of society.


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