EVOLVE Program Helps Ex-Felons

Five thousand inmates are released onto the streets of Las Vegas every year by the Nevada Department of Corrections. Most don't have any money, housing, transportation or a job. But there is a local program helping ex-offenders succeed in society.

Lisa Getman, and EVOLVE graduate, said, "It was a feeling of hopelessness and despair that I would never get my life back on track." Getman says the worst part of going to prison was getting out -- not even her college degree could change the fact that she is an ex-felon. "I just could not get my foot through the door," she said.

That was until Getman enrolled in the EVOLVE program -- the first community based re-entry program in southern Nevada. EVOLVE provides ex-offenders with intense case management, counseling, job training and placement for up to 18 months.

EVOLVE coordinator Allison Effner says, "If these people don't have jobs and they're just dropped off at the bus station they're gonna do what they need to eat and survive. So they may be breaking into homes and stealing cars."

According to national recidivism rates, 66-percent, or two out of three inmates, return to prison within three years. But the EVOLVE program boasts a recidivism rate of just 12-percent. Effner comments further, "It's phenomenal. It really is."

EVOLVE is also saving taxpayers money. There's a one-time cost of $5,000 to put someone through the EVOLVE program -- compare that to the $18,000 a year it costs to incarcerate someone.

EVOLVE is funded through grant monies and succeeds because employers like New Horizons are willing to give the Lisa Getman's of the world a second chance. Yolanda Burroughs, New Horizons general manager, said, "Her integrity, her honesty and her work ethic are impeccable."

Lisa Getman adds, "Give us a chance. There are so many people who could be a good match for your business and they will be more loyal, have more to prove and will stay with you longer."

The EVOLVE Program is run through the City of Las Vegas Neighborhood Services Department located at City Hall, 2nd Floor, 400 Stewart Avenue. The phone number is 229-2330.

Since 2003, it has helped more than 2,000 ex-offenders get back on their feet. Around 70-percent of their clients now work at jobs that pay more than $11 an hour. That's double Nevada's current minimum wage.

Contact Reporter Alyson McCarthy


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