Jail ->Jobs Academy helping youth offenders in Travis County

An academy is hoping to break the cycle for juvenile offenders who've been in and out of jail. It's training them with the skills they need to find jobs and become successful. 

There are two Jail to Jobs academies in the summer, catering to juveniles under the age of 16. Then during the year, they cater to those who are 17-21. So far, it is making a difference. 

19-year-old Kevin King spent a year and a half in jail. 

"Being away from my family for so long, that was just hurting me," says Kevin King, Jail ->Jobs Academy graduate.

So the day he got out, he decided to make a change and signed up for the Jail ->Jobs Academy. 

"I was doing woodworking with them, making like signs, picture frames and like, I was actually getting paid to learn and to do that. It was pretty nice because I was learning something that really got my mind off the stressful things and it just helped me out, get through the days," says King.  

Local non-profit Nineveh Ministries has gone into facilities like Gardner Betts Juvenile Center for the past 10 years and realized there was a need for intervention at an early age. Three years ago, they started the employment based mentoring and job skills program. They help youth who have just gotten out of jail, crimes ranging from car theft to home robberies. 

"They tell everybody 'I'm never going back there again' and they mean it, but the problem is they go back to the same people, the same neighborhoods and there's a real slippery-slope that happens that they get caught right back up in the same decision-making and processes that leads them back into jail," says Eddie Franz, director, Jail ->Jobs Academy.

Each one of the staff members is an ex-felon that can relate and speak their language. They say in order to break the cycle, they need time with the juveniles to help them find their purpose and potential. They do that by training them on how to get a job and keep it, introducing them to many fields and giving them hands-on experience.

"When we encourage them and give them the tools to succeed in life, what happens is, it changes the trajectory of their life completely. They go from where they thought this is where they're going to live for the rest of their life and it encourages them to say, 'Man, there's not limit to what I can do now,'" says Franz. 

Last year alone, they employed 89 young men and women in the Jail ->Jobs Academy. Most of them now have full time jobs, including King who now has a different outlook on life. 

"In August, I'm going to get enrolled in ACC and go to school for kinesiology," says King.