With the unemployment rate at 76% among newly released prisoners in Wayne County, the City of Detroit is using a $4.5-million grant from the U.S. Department of Labor to prepare inmates such as Hernandez for jobs in environmental work, culinary arts and fork-lift operation. According to Mayor Mike Duggan, all these fields are hiring workers in Detroit.

“We went and looked at where employers were hiring right now,” Duggan said.

Asbestos abatement is at historic highs in Michigan and much of that work is in Detroit, where the city is overseeing the largest blight-removal initiative in the country and has demolished more than 10,000 properties since Duggan took office in 2014.

The city is also generating work for lead inspectors and abatement contractors. Duggan said landlords must have their properties inspected annually for lead, and deteriorating lead-based paint must be abated.

“These jobs are keeping our kids healthy,” Duggan said, also noting that the city’s restaurants and warehouses are in need of workers. […]

The city began offering the behind-bars training in October 2016. When Duggan visited the Detroit Reentry Center last year, he said an inmate told him it was first time he had received job training, and he wished he hadn’t gone to prison to get it.

“If Detroit’s comeback is going to be successful, we need everybody’s talents and this is a way to make sure we use the talents of people who have paid their debt,” Duggan said in an interview. (Read the full story in the Detroit Free Press