Doug Evans, PEN Products Leader in Reentry


Doug Evans, PEN Products Leader in Reentry
By Becky Deeb, PIO/PEN Products

For many years it has been widely known the important role meaningful employment plays in the successful transition from prison to community. In Indiana over 18,000 offenders are released annually from the Department of Correction.  Indiana’s recidivism* rate has moved from 39.2% in 2005 to 37.4% in 2008. During this time PEN Products, Indiana’s correctional industries, became a national leader in providing their offender workers with certified documentation of the skills they were learning during their time of incarceration. This was accomplished through a partnership with the United States Department of Labor (USDOL) which brought registered apprenticeship to PEN Products and the Indiana Department of Correction (IDOC). Over 1700 offender workers have met the requirements of their occupation and have received their Apprenticeship Certification. Additionally, 2500 offender workers are currently enrolled in the program throughout IDOC.

Doug Evans, Operations and Re-entry Manager for PEN Products, was instrumental in bringing the U.S. Department of Labor Apprenticeship program to PEN Products in 2006.  After registering the first program in April of 2006, Mr. Evans immediately focused on bringing USDOL Apprenticeship to all 12 of PEN”s operations. As a result there are 31 registered occupations in those 12 sites today.

The success of the program within PEN has led the Department of Correction to expand Apprenticeship to offenders who work in non-PEN Products facility jobs.   Mr. Evans has been the driving force behind the growth of the U.S. Department of Labor Apprenticeships in Indiana and in June 2011, IDOC Commissioner Bruce Lemon named Mr. Evans, Director of Apprenticeship, for all USDOL programs in the Indiana Department of Correction.

The PEN Products’ OWDS Team (left to right): Lisa Williams, OWDS Team Leader; Dave Burch, OWDS Trainer; Nicole Doctor, OWDS Program Coordinator; John Rakis, NIC Consultant; Tanya Zimmerman, OWDS Trainer; Doug Evans, OWDS State Program Director

Apprenticeship was just the beginning for reentry within PEN Products. Mr. Evans was selected to be a part of the first all Correctional Industries Offender Workforce Development Specialists (OWDS) training team in January of 2010. The OWDS training program, developed by the National Institute of Corrections (NIC)** and the National Career Development Association, is the premier job readiness training program in the country today. Upon completion of this 180 hour rigorous training, Mr. Evans received his certification as an OWDS instructor.  In July 2010 Mr. Evans was asked to take on the role of State Program Director for a twelve member Indiana OWDS team selected to participate in this prestigious training. This team put together a plan to replicate the OWDS training for a varied group of reentry partners from across the State of Indiana.

The team Indiana plan was completed in June 2011 as twenty-nine reentry professionals completed all requirements of the OWDS curriculum and received their nationally-recognized certification of Offender Workforce Development Specialists.  These participants, who were selected through a statewide application process, represented a diverse array of agencies, including Community Corrections, faith-based and nonprofit organizations, PEN Products and the Indiana Department of Correction.  “Offender Workforce Development Specialists training has provided this group of participants a rare opportunity to step outside their everyday jobs and learn new and effective skills,” said Program Director Evans.  “Additionally, it has opened the door in a new way for collaborations between agencies and individual practitioners across Indiana.” With the success of the 2011 OWDS training, plans have already started to replicate the program in 2012.

Through Doug Evans’ leadership and vision, PEN Products is continually working to expand job placement services for their offender workers. In addition to the USDOL Apprenticeship and the OWDS initiatives, PEN is preparing offenders for post-release employment through Job Clubs, Career Resource Centers, and Career Path Planning Workshops. These workshops take a very innovative approach by bringing staff and offenders to the same table where both can grow through improved communication and understanding. Mr. Evans’ vision for the future includes further collaboration with the Indiana Department of Correction in the development of a 40 hour Job Readiness Program, which will include career-based housing units equipped with Career Resource Centers.

The true measurement of results comes down to what the numbers reflect.  Tracking of the return rate of PEN’s offender workers who have completed the U.S. Department of Labor Apprenticeships is verifying that these programs are working. The reentry initiatives implemented by Doug Evans and PEN Products, beginning in 2006, are showing an early return rate of only 19.5% for PEN offender workers who have completed a USDOL Apprenticeship.  “Successfully preparing offenders for employment and life after incarceration, reducing recidivism and potentially saving taxpayer dollars is the future of correctional industries.  We are proud to have Doug Evans as a part of our leadership team,” states Mike Herron, Director of PEN Products.

*The Indiana Department of Correction defines Recidivism as an offender’s return to incarceration within three (3) years of their release date from a state correctional institution.

** The National Institute of Corrections, an agency within the U.S. Department of Justice, was created in 1974 as a resource for practitioners in the corrections field and to provide leadership and assistance to the field.