CLEVELAND - If it's Monday, you're likely to find Michael Jones at class on Fleet Avenue in Cleveland. But the students in his room would probably get a failing grade in life skills -- that's the reason they come to him.
Jones doesn't have a degree from Harvard, Yale or Cleveland State University. His degree is from the streets and he uses his own life experiences to try and help others.
"Breaking the cycle" is a program aimed at helping people get a job once they leave the penitentiary life.
"You need to be able to type 20 words a minute, have a proper email and a working phone on your resume," Jones tells people in his class. Each year, as many as 7,000 former inmates descend on the streets of Cuyahoga County, according to the county's Office of Reentry website. The website also notes that 70 percent of offenders released end up committing another crime within the first year.
It's that statistic Jones is trying to curb. His class is about three hours long and covers a range of issues.
"I want to change their mindset and give them realistic expectations when seeking a job," he explained. "We talked to them about things other than their felony that is stopping them from getting employment."
Jones said job agencies he's talked to have told him a person's zip code can stop them from being considered for a job.
"I was told... that they wouldn't hire people in certain zip codes because of attitudes, car break downs, no transportation, calling in sick, and no babysitter."
Those who attend the class also watch a video about social media and their voting rights in Ohio.
"Many who have committed felonies have no idea they can vote," he explained. Ohio is one of 12 states in the Union where a person can regain their voting rights after being released from prison.
Below are some facts we pulled from the Office of Reentry's website:
- Average cost to the state to incarcerate one person for one year is $24,728.75
- 71 percent of people behind bars in Cuyahoga County are African-American
- 83 percent of those locked up are men, 11.7 percent are women
- 72.7 percent of people in jail were single prior to being locked up
- 50.7 percent of those in prison did not have a high school diploma
- 25.6 percent had no housing prior to incarceration
- 48.9 percent were unemployed prior to incarceration
- 22.3 percent were being treated for mental illness prior to incarceration
- Ohio's current state prison population is 51,219. The average stay for an offender in Ohio's prison system 2.2 years with the average age for an offender being 34 years old.
- 70 percent of all recidivism occurs in the first year of release
On the Web: Cuyahoga County Office of Reentry http:// reentry.cuyahogacounty.us/
Copyright 2012 Scripps Media, Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.
The first set of explosions for the filming of “Captain America: The Winter Soldier” were set off in downtown Cleveland Wednesday morning.
Cleveland city officials, along with the police department, are hosting a “Night Out For Missing Persons” event this week, the first of a series to try and help reunite missing loved ones with their families.