Incarcerated people are packing food packages for the needy and finding employable skills at a Colorado prison.
The program at the prison operated by CoreCivic marked distribution of its one-millionth package.
“Some of the biggest benefits are learning job skills for reentry back into society,” said Steven Salazar, CoreCivic facilitator for the Bent’s Backpack Fulfillment Program (BBFP). “These offenders one day could possibly be our neighbors, so it’s rewarding for us to see them obtain job skills that they can use to transition on the streets once they do return.”
CoreCivic is a private prison ownership and management company. Its program operates at the Bent County Correctional Facility in Las Animas, Bent County, Colorado.
BBFP has been in operation since 2018. Its goal is to help hungry kids and others facing food insecurity. The program has been noted for providing food packages to those in need while training incarcerated people to prepare the packages.
“It gives them a good feeling to give back and it’s a worthy cause for them, but also is giving them job readiness skills for reentry,” said Clair Perez, CoreCivic spokesperson.
There are typically 15 to 30 incarcerated people working in the program. The food packages they prepare are sent to food banks across Bent County.
These food packages have helped out in the past two years due to the COVID pandemic. The incarcerated employers are taught valuable job skills that may aid in their employment process upon release.
The incarcerated employees are taught warehouse operations skills. All are given a 40-work session probationary period. Afterward they become eligible for extra training and an industry-recognized forklift operation certificate.
On Sept 23, the organization packed its one-millionth food package.
“The milestone of reaching the 1 million bags packed is much bigger than the facility or myself or the offenders,” Salazar said. “Because the way we look at it, hopefully, we’ve reached 1 million kids or other people in need.”