COLUMBUS (WCMH) — Nine out of ten Ohio prisoners have something in common: they will eventually get out. The Ohio Senate Finance Committee is considering funding for a program that will help ensure those prisoners have a career waiting for them.
“Zero Back” is a program founded by Cleveland businessman, Tom Johnston, the president and CEO of MyHuntPath, Inc., an executive search firm. Two years ago Johnston decided to put his experience to work for prisoners in Northeast Ohio.
“What most people don’t realize is 90% of the people who are in prison today are coming home, and they’re going to need a job. And we want to try to get them something more than just a job, but a career,” says Johnston.
Johnston and his team start career-coaching for a prisoner during the first week of incarceration, helping them “define their purpose” and search for and create a meaningful career path. He recalled working with one inmate named Maurice.
“I said Maurice you are a convicted drug dealer and a car thief. You’re a sales guy, you are an entrepreneur. And he looked at me and said ‘what are you talking about?’ And I said ‘you’ve got skills.”
Johnston is working with Jobs Ohio to identify in-demand jobs, and says he works closely with the Department of Corrections. He testified before the Senate Finance Committee hoping for funding to take the program to five Ohio prisons, helping 17,500 prisoners a year.