Case Study: Reducing Recidivism by Training Probationers in Construction


Connecting state and local government leaders

In Northern California, Sacramento County’s Probation Department has an 85 percent job placement success rate.

The Sacramento County Probation Department forged a training center partnership to teach probationers 24 construction trades from the ground up to the roof.

Getting a job out of prison isn’t easy, even when former inmates have families to feed, so the Probation Department teamed up with the county Office of Education and Northern California Construction Training to reduce recidivism.

The five-day-a-week program begins with high school equivalency schooling in reading, social studies, science, math, and writing in the morning, followed by vocational training in construction in the afternoon.

“Without your GED, your high school equivalency, the only thing these clients can do in the labor force is that—is be a general laborer,” says Dave Semon, Probation Department assistant chief deputy, in this California State Association of Counties video .

Carpentry, welding, hazardous waste operations, forklift, framing, drywall, painting, plumbing, and electricity training are all offered, as is help with resumes.

The county provides transportation to the training center and food for probationers once they’re there.

Potential employers visit the school to offer apprenticeships—an instant paycheck if selected. And the county has an 85 percent placement rate.

“Do you want [probationers] fixing your home or robbing your home?” asks Jake Meehan, NCCT vice president.

Dave Nyczepir is a News Editor at Government Executive’s Route Fifty and is based in Washington, D.C.

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