A program designed to help Missouri inmates to gain job skills to use after they’re released is not working as intended, according to State Auditor Scott Fitzpatrick.

He told Missourinet that the Department of Corrections has instead primarily chosen inmates with longer sentences to take part in the Missouri Vocational Enterprises (MVE) program.

“The department has really prioritized putting long term offenders that are going to be in prison for a very long time,” Fitzpatrick said. “These programs (are not serving) the statutory mission of people who are going to be leaving prison to go back out into society, exiting with some level of job skills that they can put to use when they go back out and start looking for jobs.”

As for how many long-term offenders are enrolled in MVE:

“Thirty-five percent of the participants have more than ten years expected on their sentences remaining,” Fitzpatrick said. “Twenty-four percent have more than 20 years of expected sentence time remaining, and then 18 percent have 40 or more years expected remaining sentences.”

Fitzpatrick recommends the Department of Corrections adopts practices to increase the number of short-term inmates in the program. DOC officials disagree, saying all offenders should be offered employment opportunities and that sentence length does not determine an inmate’s appropriateness to a specific job opportunity.

The full audit and response can be found here.

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