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PROJECT RIO (Re-Integration of Offenders)

Project RIO services are administered in the Central Texas region through the Central Texas Workforce Centers. The program is administered by the Texas Workforce Commission in collaboration with the Texas Department of Criminal Justice (TDCJ), the windham school District and the Texas Youth Commission (TYC). The project provides a link between education, training and employment during incarceration with employment, training and education after release.

The program is designed to reduce recidivism through employment. Numerous studies have shown reduced recidivism rates for employed ex-offenders. Even when one takes into account other factors such as age, risk score, race/ethniticity and type of previous offense, post-release employment reduced rearrests and reincarcerations.

Services are offered to program participants pre- and post-release. An individualized treatment plan is developed to identify a career path for the offender and to guide placement decisions. Prior to release, a comprehensive evaluation is conducted to assess the needs of the offender and assist in the selection and placement in Windham, college, TDCJ and TYC programs. The evaluation process is a multi-step approach that includes information gathering, goal-setting, program placement and offender self-assessment.

Project RIO staff encourage participants to take advantage of educational and vocational services and assist offenders in obtaining documents necessary for employment. Unit or facility staff also provide placement services to give offenders practical work experience in their areas of training.

After release, Project RIO staff provide ex-offenders with individualized workforce development services including job preparation and job search assistance. RIO participants attend structured job search workshops that focus on basic skills such as completing a work application, preparing a resume and performing in a mock interview. However, the most important aspect of the Project RIO program is ex-offender employment as soon as possible after release.

Project RIO staff ensure that potential employers are aware of and take advantage of special incentives for hiring releasees. Project RIO staff certify prospective employees for the Work Opportunity Tax Credit program which provides a tax incentive to employers for hiring economically disadvantaged ex-offenders. RIO staff can provide bonding service upon request. Fidelity bonds are issued at no cost for a period of six months.

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