Team Assembles Resources to Lift Up Returning Citizen


Team Assembles Resources to Lift Up Returning Citizen

(From the March 7, 2019 "News Flash" published by Iowa Works (part of Iowa Workforce Development)

Jerry is a braille transcriber by trade; a skill he received through employment with Iowa Prison Industries (IPI) while incarcerated. He began working with Workforce Re-Entry Advisory Terry Zmolek in June of 2018 at the Mt. Pleasant Correctional Facility (MPCF).

The two met several times over a period of six months, focusing on career readiness activities such as IowaWORKS employment registration, job searching, resume and interview assistance, email access, and labor market research. In addition, Jerry took advantage of the training opportunities that were provided and successfully completed his CPR/First Aid certification.

Together, they decided to focus Jerry’s employment plan on continuing to work in the braille trade upon release. Jerry was scheduled for release from the MPCF in January of 2019. He would be releasing to the Residential Facility in Dubuque.

A month prior to Jerry’s release, Terry reached out to several partner agencies for assistance. Jerry had an employment plan and now it was time to start moving toward his employment goals.

  • Goal # 1- Who was Jerry going to work for? Jerry received great news that he was approved to continue his employment with Iowa Prison Industries (IPI) while at the residential facility. He would retain the same supervisor and was approved to purchase his braille transcribing equipment.
  • Goal # 2: Where was Jerry going to work?  He was going to need an office space with internet access and phone capabilities to perform his job. Terry reached out to Operations Manager Marla Loecke, with the IowaWORKSCenter in Dubuque, who was happy to provide cubicle space and communications equipment.

Jerry’s successful return to the world of work is thanks to a tremendous coordinated effort from members of the IowaWORKSteam, including Jerry’s supervisor Keith Paulson, Wendy Lyons, the Residential Manager at the facility in Dubuque, and of course Marla and Terry. Together, they were able to provide Jerry with structure, a place of work, and at the same time adhere to all the policies and procedures of the residential facility.

Following Jerry’s release from the MPCF in January 2019, Wendy and Marla had a follow-up conference call with him to discuss expectations, work schedule, office rules, logistics, and transportation. Once everyone was on the same page and the braille equipment arrived, Jerry got to work.

In his first two weeks, Jerry earned almost $800 for several completed braille projects. Jerry is currently working on a single project that will earn him $400 upon completion. Not including his current projects, Jerry has completed 133 braille pages and 86 tactile pages. Jerry has further aspirations and goals of owning and managing his own braille company and has started on the right path to reaching his goals.

“This is a wonderful example of the collaborative efforts that were made to seamlessly employ a returning citizen.” Marcy Stroud, Deputy Warden, MPCF

“Jerry is usually assigned the most difficult technical material and the most challenging Nemeth transcriptions we receive and always comes through on time and with the highest quality braille you could expect from anyone. His knowledge of braille codes is extremely extensive.” Keith Paulson, Production Coordinator (Braille Division), Iowa Prison Industries and Jerry’s Supervisor

“Jerry has made a great adjustment here and is doing very well. I was impressed with the planning and research he did in advance of his placement.” Wendy Lyons, Residential Manager, Dubuque Residential Facility

Jerry has displayed a very professional work ethic in person and over the phone.  He is attentive to his work and is focused on the task at hand.  Jerry is appreciative of this opportunity.” Marla Loecke, Operations Manager, IowaWORKS Center in Dubuque

“This is a Great example of teamwork and several different entities coming together to help an individual be successful.  I want to personally thank everyone that assisted Jerry with a very smooth transition back to society.”  Terry Zmolek, Re-Entry Advisor, MPCF


Printed from the Iowa Department of Corrections website on December 01, 2022 at 8:04am.