Houston Timber Company Finds Success Hiring Ex-Offenders

Rocky Arnold was hired as a Mill Coordinator over a year ago. Since then he has been promoted to Mill Supervisor, and then to Operations Manager.

Building Products Plus, a Houston-based company that manufactures and supplies extended life structural building materials, has found success in hiring employees through the Prison Entrepreneurship Program, (PEP). Having hired seven program graduates within the last year, the company’s President, Dorian Benn, is “more than pleased” with the results of these employees. Of the seven BPP hired during the last year, five have stayed and made a real difference both in their own lives and as employees.

The PEP Program
The PEP program operates in 60+ prisons in the Texas Department of Criminal Justice, with all operations based out of the Cleveland Correctional Center. In 2013 Baylor University researchers conducted a study of PEP’s results vs other similar programs in Texas. PEP outperformed the other nine rehabilitation programs’ recidivism rates by 70%. What makes PEP so successful?
• Re-programming
A family relations program builds confidence and hope. Essential life skills like moral decision making, spiritual discipline, how to treat women, and what employers look for when hiring help the program participants to have a solid foundation from which to build on. Just learning a skill wouldn’t help to build essential characteristics for making better choices and becoming  successful once hired.
• Education
Program participants receive MBA-level curriculum education and professional mentors. Some of their MBA program partners include: Baylor University, Cornell University, Georgia Tech, MIT, Rice University, Texas Tech, University of Dallas, Southern Methodist University and many more.
• Reintegration
This is one of the most crucial components of the program, as the inmates’ return to society is a vulnerable time. PEP provides a care package to help with this transition:
• Housing
• Professional clothing for interviews
• Medical, dental, optical care
• Family reunification services
• Transportation
• Assistance with obtaining identification (Driver’s license, etc.)
• Church Connections
• Basic necessities care package: toiletries, wallet and watch, pen and portfolio for interviews.
• “Free World”
The PEP job placement program, which Building Products Plus is a part of, is crucial in helping these program graduates be successful in their new future.