Anne Arundel antipoverty group tapped to help run Turnaround Thursday job program for people following incarceration

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A job training program for Anne Arundel County residents returning to society following incarceration officially launched Thursday following delays brought on by a change in leadership.

Turnaround Thursday, modeled after Baltimore’s Turnaround Tuesday, received a commitment of $1.3 million in American Rescue Plan funding from Anne Arundel County Executive Steuart Pittman in December 2021. Disagreements between the partner organizations resulted in a change in participating groups, delaying the initiative’s launch by about fifteen months. More than 50 people are signed up for the first session, so far, which will feature essential skills training, case management and career development.


The program was initially to be a collaboration between Anne Arundel Connecting Together and Maryland Reentry Resource Center, hosted by Asbury United Methodist Church in Annapolis. Vanessa Bright, executive director of Maryland Reentry Resource Center, told The Capital in June she and Anne Arundel Connecting Together had “philosophical differences” about how best to run the program.

The Maryland Reentry Resource Center provides individualized case management and support post-incarceration in an effort to reduce criminal recidivism. Anne Arundel Connecting Together is a local coalition of faith-based and community groups working on issues and strategies to better the lives of residents.


Bright, who worked in reentry for more than three years, said the Turnaround Thursday program’s six-month timeline to prepare people for work was too short. In her experience, most of the first few months with a client are spent facilitating access to birth certificates, driver’s licenses, food and clothes, before a job can be explored.

Prior to launch, the Maryland Reentry Resource Center was replaced with the Community Action Agency of Anne Arundel County, an anti-poverty group. While the organization is fairly new to reentry work, CEO Charlestine Fairley expressed confidence in meeting the task.

“I am so pleased to be a part of this movement,” Farley said. “It gives us an opportunity to expand our programmatic reach. We, at one time, had a returning citizens program, and we thought we were doing very well until our new executive director for Turnaround Thursday, he came in with lots of knowledge. Much more knowledge than I have about the field. I have learned from him and he has learned from me about the county.”

Joshua Hatch, who serves on the Annapolis Humans Relations Commission, was chosen in November to be the Turnaround Thursday executive director.

“I understand the challenges individuals face when they come back to the community,” Hatch said. “I have witnessed the discriminatory practices of employers.”

After the Maryland Reentry Resource Center was taken off the project, the program changed the timeline Bright had expressed concern about. The six-month timeline of involvement with the formerly incarcerated has been extended for up to two years.


“Everyone has different barriers that they’re going to face, and we have to learn how to address those barriers while working with them to prepare them for the workforce,” said Hatch, who also is a member of the Caucus of African American Leaders of Anne Arundel County, a civic organization.

Soon after the program gets going at Asbury United Methodist Church, Hatch said a duplicate program will start around March 23 at the Ordnance Road Correctional Center in Glen Burnie, one of the county’s two jails.

The two jails currently have a combined population of about 500, said Christopher Klein, superintendent of the Department of Detention Facilities for Anne Arundel County.

Part of the goal of the in-jail version of the program is to prepare inmates for work by the time they leave. This will also help address Bright’s concern about how time-consuming the gathering of documentation can be to prepare for a job once a person leaves incarceration.

While Klein said former inmates have myriad needs when they reenter society, and finding work and a supportive community group are keys to success.

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“We don’t choose who comes to us; we don’t choose how long they stay with us,” Klein said. “If [the community doesn’t] ever accept these returning citizens, they’re going to end up back with us, and this is a movement that helps curb that cycle.”

Anne Arundel County’s rearrest rate is at about 50%, a percentage that could be lowered with programs like Turnaround Thursday, Klein said.

Another critical need of the county’s returning inmates is adequate mental health care, a problem that has gone unmet for years and been made worse by the pandemic and a shortage of mental health professionals, Klein said.

“It is something that has been a challenge and I think is progressively getting worse because there aren’t the supports in the community,” Klein said. “We need to figure out how we can provide more preventative services and diversion options.”

Baltimore’s version of the program, Turnaround Tuesday, has helped about 1,500 returning inmates secure employment since 2015, according to Hatch. While that program partners with Johns Hopkins Medicine as an employer, the Anne Arundel program is partnering with Luminis Health Anne Arundel Medical Center to employ graduates.

Those interested in enrolling in Turnaround Thursday can reach out to Roxanne McGowan at