Former Inmates Praise Transitional Jobs Program, Soon To Be Phased Out


Former inmates told state lawmakers yesterday that a transitional jobs program had given them the help they needed to turn their lives around.

Wisconsin’s statewide transitional jobs program offers people short-term government-subsidized minimum-wage jobs at private employers. It is tailored for people who do not qualify for Wisconsin’s W2 program and who want to develop a work history.

Brian Osei told the legislature’s Joint Finance Committee how he encountered the program. It started when he lost his job in 2008 and was later arrested after a high-speed chase with police.

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“Growing up in the neighborhood I grew up in, when you don’t have money, you learn how to hustle. And I made a commitment to myself and to god that I would not hustle again.”

After he served his sentence, a friend told Osei about the transitional job openings. He applied and worked on a temporary basis with an organization called Project Return for several months. He did well enough that they hired him full time, where he now helps other former inmates reintegrate into society.

“It allowed me to walk honorable in front of my daughter. She don’t have to worry about her dad going to jail for robbing somebody or selling drugs, so I’m very thankful for transitional jobs. For those of you who are behind it, I thank you, and for those of you who are not behind it, I ask that you commit to it.”

Wisconsin’s statewide transitional jobs program was started in 2010 and is being phased out at the end of June. It would be replaced in Governor Walker’s proposed budget by a similar program called the Transform Milwaukee Jobs Program that would only be offered in the city. The budget funds it at nearly $9 million over the next couple years.