CINCINNATI (WKRC) – Early 2023 marked the return of a program for incarcerated women that helps them to work towards a career path upon release.
It’s called the "Second Chance Program." River City Corrections and Hamilton Country Reentry partnered with Northern Kentucky University to bring it back.
The program began in 2018, when Cincinnati State University was the educational partner. The most recent class had five women in it.
Karrie Norgren was in the pilot program. Since her release from River City in 2018, her time has been spent excelling professionally at Nehemiah Manufacturing.
Nehemiah Manufacturing is all about second chances. The company prides itself on hiring people who may otherwise be overlooked by employers.
"Started there as a temporary worker, coming in the door, working the lines, I got very bored with that. I don’t want to pack boxes, so I begged to be line captain,” said Norgren.
She says she didn't work long as line captain, and became a trainer, but in both positions, she still wanted to do more.
"So, there was an open position for a backup supervisor, stepped into that role and now I’m a full-time supervisor in the Olay department,” she said.
In just a few years, Norgren has been promoted four times.
"Looking back at that journey, I see a young woman who wanted to change but didn’t know how to change,” said Norgren.
The pilot program was called "Preparing Incarcerated Women for Sustainable Careers."
Trina Jackson is the director of Hamilton County Reentry. She says this program is needed now more than ever.
The number of women incarcerated in the United States has increased substantially. There’s 1.9 million women in incarcerated throughout this country,” said Jackson. "If they don’t have education or marketable skills to earn a living wage, affordable housing, they’ll be in and out of the system.
Jackson says Norgren is a perfect example of why its program is vital.
"I’m extremely proud of Karrie, and the work that she has done and what she’s accomplished,” Jackson said.
And Norgen is proud of herself, as well, but she knows she didn't change without help.
I want to be able to share my story with others, show them my path of success," she said. "I’ve had the four promotions, I’ve recently bought my first house, I have a two-and-a-half-year-old daughter that’s my world, but without the support of the people along the path, I would’ve never made it to where I’m at today.