YVONNE WENGER, THE BALTIMORE SUN — Judge Nicole Pastore-Klein picked up a thick yellow folder documenting Tyronne Fowler’s criminal record and smiled at the 28-year-old man sitting in the front row of her Baltimore courtroom Tuesday. His infant daughter, girlfriend and sister sat beaming proudly on the benches behind him.
Fowler, of Cherry Hill, was one of nearly 30 men and women who completed the District Court’s fledgling jobs training and placement program and took part in the courtroom “graduation” ceremony. In exchange, they saw their probation periods cut short, were granted probation before judgment, and had their required meetings with probation officers reduced.
Fowler is no longer worried about his past “dirty-knuckle days.” Instead, he’s focused on the future.
“This offered me the exact career opportunities I needed and wanted,” he said. “It gave me the certifications I needed — and the respect. This is an amazing milestone for me.”
Civic Works, Goodwill Industries of the Chesapeake and Our Daily Bread are among a dozen organizations that partner with the court on the program.
Dirrane Cove runs the Work First Foundation, one of the re-entry program’s partner groups. It enrolls participants, many of them young adult first-time offenders, in skills-training programs for careers in various sectors.
“People are afraid of crime rising — and public safety remains a huge concern in Baltimore City,” Cove said. “But when you think about this in the long term, these people are not going to be re-offending at the same rate and entering the prison system at the same rate they’re getting employed. The bigger picture is so important here: Getting jobs so they don’t enter a life of crime.”
Read the whole interview online at the Baltimore Sun. Photo credit to Barbara Haddock Taylor, the Baltimore Sun.