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Cochise County to pair former inmates with construction jobs

(Kevin Johnston/Forklift Safety Las Vegas)

PHOENIX — The demand for new homes is ramping up in Cochise County in southeastern Arizona, but contractors are running into a problem: There aren’t enough workers to do the jobs.

But the Cochise County Sheriff’s Office has teamed up with the Southeastern Arizona Contractor’s Association to help solve the problem.

A new program called “Framing Our Future” will aim to pair former inmates or anyone who comes in contact with county law enforcement officials with a construction job.

Carol Capas, a spokeswoman with the sheriff’s office, said inmates will be given a questionnaire at the start of their sentence that will identify whether they will be seeking employment once they are released.

Once an inmate completes his or her prison sentence, their information is then given to the association, which will try and pair them up with a job.

Capas said the idea sparked when the sheriff’s office met with the association last year. The contractors said they were short-staffed and anticipating a building boom and wanted to make sure that they had all their bases covered when it came to finding qualified workers.

The program isn’t just open to former inmates: Anyone who comes in contact with a county law enforcement official could be eligible, Capas said.

“If you go to a domestic violence call and the information shows that the problem was starting because of a lack of money, officers can provide them with contact information for SACA, which can help them get paired to a job.”

Capas said the program should be implemented within the next month.

KTAR News’ Bob McClay and Jeremy Foster contributed to this report.

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