Former Inmates Will Represent Some Important Media Roles Thanks To This New Initiative

“It is admittedly a small step, but hopefully other media companies will follow suit."

Next year, Vice Media is welcoming some new members to its team. That's not normally a big deal or particularly newsworthy for any company, but it's the fact that the outlet will onboard former inmates that's got everyone talking.

Earlier this month, the company announced that it was accepting applications for an apprenticeship program starting in early 2017. The apprenticeship aims to train and employ formerly incarcerated people on probation who are 18 to 25 years old in media specialties such as development, production, and marketing. The program will be based in its New York City office, according to a report from Variety

In its announcement, Vice Media mentioned that 60 percent of formerly incarcerated individuals are unemployed a year after their release, which leads to many of them ending up in the prison system again. As a result, formerly incarcerated individuals will work $15 an hour and a total of 40 hours a week in order to acquire long-term employment skills in media. 

In order to shape the program into a success, the company has spent the last year working with the Center for Employment Opportunities, an organization that helps employ former inmates in New York, California, Pennsylvania, and Oklahoma.

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People also responded to the announcement from Shane Smith — Vice's co-founder and CEO — with praise and encouragement.

Even Snoop Dogg tweeted the news out.

Vice's news also got a shout out from Valerie Jarrett, President Obama's senior adviser.

Ian Fried, a spokesperson for Vice Media, told A Plus that in the weeks since the news about the program has come out, the "reception from the community and our elected officials has been tremendous."

"This program is not just going to provide a six-month job to formerly incarcerated people," he said. "More importantly, it will provide them with skills training that sets them up for quality, well-paying careers in production, editorial, and creative fields."

Those who are interested in applying for the apprenticeship can email VICEandCEOFellows@ceoworks.org for more details on how to apply. The Center for Employment Opportunities is planning to release more information about the application process in a few weeks, according to Fried. 

"The most important thing about applying is that it gets you in communication with CEO, which works not just with VICE, but all over," he said. "They are the national leaders in helping formerly incarcerated people return to a regular lifestyle. Talking to CEO is definitely the perfect first step on the right track."

Vice Media is following in the footsteps of other companies such as Apple, Ace Hardware, and Cascade Engineering. These companies also fall in line with initiatives that allow former inmates a fair chance at employment, such as Ban the Box, a campaign aimed to remove the box in employment applications that ask if someone has been convicted of a felony. 

Smith hopes Vice Media's move will inspire his peers in the media world to do the same.

"It is admittedly a small step, but hopefully other media companies will follow suit and not only push for change, but also nurture a whole new group of producers, shooters, cutters and hosts that will offer a new perspective not only on prison reform but life itself," he said in a statement.

(H/T: Variety)

Cover image via Shutterstock

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