SACRAMENTO (CBS13) — Ex-convicts determined to stay out of trouble are taking part in a new Sacramento County program geared at helping them build a new future.

Five days a week, they sweat it out at Northern California Construction Training in Sacramento. The convicted felons who have done their time and are either on probation or supervised release typically have trouble getting back into the workplace.

“Even if you just mark ‘Yes I’ve had a felony’, they just put you over to the side,” said Darnell Mitchell, who is recently off of probation.

He’s one of about two-dozen men who come daily as part of a new Sacramento County probation program.

“It’s been shown that if someone has a meaningful job they’re less likely to commit crime,” said Michael Bays with the Sacramento County Probation Department.

He says students must be in good standing with their supervision, and they are drug tested.

“They’re going to have to be motivated because this is five days a week, four hours and it can be up to 9 months before they get placed in a job,” he said.

When a student finds work, we’re told it’s a career not just a job. Many are union positions.

“Minimum $15-17 an hour with benefits, retirement, pension, vacation, medical, dental, which some of these guys have never even thought about having,” said Jake Meehan with Northern California Construction Training.

For Mitchell and Derrick Broussard, the program offers a chance to turn their lives around.

“You give guys like me a second chance to get out there and provide for my family the right way. instead of committing crime,” Mitchell said.

The program is state-funded and the contract is written so costs can’t exceed $228,000 a year. Fourteen men have graduated from the program since it started in November.


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