Below is an article published in the Gadsden Correctional Newsletter by an inmate who is a champion of Operation New Hope’s Ready4Work program. She is scheduled for release in 2025 and we look forward to welcoming her to the program at that time. Until then, we are so thankful for her support.

Hope For A Better Future by Ashley Carnley

Operation New Hope, Re-entry Program, Ready4Work… I’ve heard it be called several different names but it’s all the same program, I hear people talk about it but I can never get any real information about what exactly the program is and what they do. I just keep hearing that “It’s a really great program.” Yeah? Why? Nobody seems to have an answer for me…

So I’m sitting in Mrs. Williams classroom on a Friday afternoon, where the newsletter team meets up, and we start talking about a topic that we’ve been discussing recently. When you go home, what will you need to succeed? An answer that I particularly liked was DETERMINATION. You have to want to succeed. But even with the want to succeed, I still need to know how to succeed. It’s been a longtime since I’ve had to build my life from nothing. Actually, I’ve never had to build my life from nothing. When I moved out of my parents house at seventeen, I had a job, clothes, a bed, necessities, and a few supportive friends, When I leave here, I won’t have any of that. Along with not having any of those necessities, I’ve picked up a few bad habits since I was seventeen that I’d like to not go back to. I need a new life, new friends, a new support system and a whole lot of want to succeed in my life so that I never revisit the past.

With that being said, I decided to find out more information on this program because it’s something that I want for myself in the future, I think this program would be great for anyone with the same desire, regardless of what you have or don’t have. I actually have a great support system. I have a family that wants to help me get back on my feet. They want to help me re-enter the world and live in a way that I’ve never lived before, I want to be successful, and I believe that with Operation New Hope, the sky’s the limit.

The call-out announced that Operation New Hope was going to be here to inform people about the program. The call-out had a couple of women that had to be there but it was open to anyone interested in the program wanting to learn more. I walked in, sat down, willing to listen. There was eight other women sitting next to me. Eight! I know they were not the only women on this whole compound that are leaving in the next few months. The two men who came to speak to us about Operation New Hope were so wonderful. They were helpful and encouraging. When I signed in with March 2025 as my EOS date, they didn’t even question it. They let me listen and take down my notes. Afterward, I told them about the newsletter and my way of thinking. They were supportive, thanked me for spreading the message, gave me some fliers and said if I needed anything else I could write them. They also encouraged me to come back and listen next time they come to speak to us. By the end of our hour and a half conversation, I believed them when they said, “We’re people-trying to make a difference, not trying to make a paycheck.”

The program is in Jacksonville, Florida, (I’m not from Jacksonville either. Who knows though, relocation could be the best thing that’s ever you.) They offer so much! To begin with, they offer transitional housing. For the first 3 months Operation New Hope supports you. They pay 3 months of rent, although you can stay there as long as you’d like. You just have to pay rent. (All of them are $600 a month except for City House which costs $817 a month) Staying In the transitional house offers you support, holds you accountable, keeps you focused, and helps you reach your goals. When you get there they have a ladies boutique to provide you with the clothing and shoes you need. They also provide you with a bus pass for 3 months. To get things rolling you can write or call the transitional house. Your unit manager also has applications.

Along with housing, you attend a four week training program. The four weeks of workshops teach you everything you feed to know that’s job related. It’s what they call “soft skills training.” It’s a total of 29 workshops that teach you things like how to deal with difficult bosses or other employees, office décor, how to keep your relationships professional, and building resumes. They can also refer you to different places of work. When you’re finished with the workshops, their goal is for you to be an employee that is missed at work; that your boss makes statements like, “If Ashley were here, all those dishes would be clean.” No textbooks are involved in the classes, only motivation and determination. The workshops are Monday – Thursday 8:30 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. and Friday 8:30 a.m. to 11:30 a.m. Lunch is from 11:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. They provide bag lunches but you can leave and go get something to eat as long as you’re back by 12:30 p.m. Fridays are payday! If you attend 4 out of the 5 workshops per week, as well as participate and conduct yourself in a decent manner, Operation New Hope pays you $50 each week. Someone will be chosen as a “Student of the Week” and will receive an additional $25. That’s potentially $300 in 4 weeks! When you finish all 29 workshops successfully, Operation New Hope gives you a graduation gift of $75.

When you finally get a job and you need some work gear, they buy you what you need. After 3 months of keeping your job they give you $50 for your accomplishments. They also offer training certification classes such as customer service, warehouse, Microsoft, and being a “flagger” (apparently it’s good money). If you haven’t done so already, they pay to further your education with on-site TABE testing and GED testing. If you’ve never had a driver’s license, they take you to your driving test and pay for that as well. If you’re on probation, they write monthly reports to your P.O. for you, as long as you’re doing well. They offer many resources such as NA, AA, help getting your food stamps and have a computer lab to help you with all of this.

What I wanted to know about the Ready4Work program didn’t just fall in my lap. People here aren’t going out of their way to make sure we know about this program. If we want better we have to push for it. Talk to people, ask questions, go look for the help you need and want. Remember, for those of you who are getting ready to EOS, register as a felon upon your release. No matter what your plans are, you have 48 hours (72 hours on the weekend) to report as a felon or they will arrest you.