TSA is enhancing opportunities for previously incarcerated individuals to obtain TSA credentials which are required for many U.S. critical infrastructure and supply chain worker jobs.
TSA’s Enrollment Services and Vetting Programs (ESVP) Program Analysts Kaitlin Daly and Julean Thorpe traveled to New Iberia, Louisiana, to meet with prospective applicants and community leaders and share information on the Transportation Worker Identification Credential (TWIC®) and Hazardous Materials Endorsement (HME) Threat Assessment Programs.
The New Iberia District Probation and Parole Office hosted a Second Chance Job and Resource Fair at South Louisiana Community College’s New Iberia campus. The state invited TSA and over 40 employers and community resource providers to share information on career opportunities for people previously in the criminal justice system and to help them transition back into their communities.
Louisiana Reentry Programs Manager Jeri Mestayer is partnering with TSA to promote acquisition of a TWIC or HME as potential pathways for formerly incarcerated individuals to reenter the workforce.
After being released from jail or prison, they often face many challenges, including outstanding bills, limited access to transportation, lack of employment, medical issues, and child support. The goal of the Second Chance Job Fair was to provide people with a one-stop resource shop, including job prospects and programming to help them succeed and avoid returning to the criminal justice system.
In coordination with the TSA Intelligence and Analysis (I&A) Security Threat Assessment Division, ESVP’s TWIC and HME Redress Equity Initiative supports the Biden administration’s mandate to promote opportunities for formerly incarcerated individuals. That’s achieved by clarifying how to navigate TSA’s redress process, engaging with the American Probation and Parole Association and state corrections agencies to support probation/parole officers, and participating in second chance events to provide direct guidance to those interested in obtaining a TWIC or HME.
TWIC is a vetting program that issues an ID card to people who need unescorted access to the nation’s maritime facilities and vessels and do not pose a national transportation security risk. A TWIC card is essential for the 2.4 million people employed by companies doing business around ports and waterways.
The HME Threat Assessment Program conducts a threat assessment for any driver seeking to obtain, renew, and transfer a hazardous materials endorsement on a state-issued commercial driver’s license.
While the eligibility criteria for obtaining a TWIC or HME may result in individuals who were previously incarcerated being initially denied, it is possible for them to obtain a TWIC or HME by successfully completing the TSA redress process, which allows many individuals to appeal TSA’s initial decision or request a waiver.
The ESVP team sought feedback from applicants, community resources, and the probation and parole community. Daly and Thorpe answered applicants’ questions and provided additional TWIC and HME background.
“Not only was this an opportunity to provide education on the enrollment process to prospective TWIC and HME applicants,” said Daly, “but also to answer questions from the community representatives and probation officers who may not understand their significant impact on an applicant’s redress request.”
The ESVP team learned directly from applicants the impact delays in the redress process have on their job prospects and their concerns of inaccessibility for the redress process.
"Partnering with community-focused stakeholders helps us develop valuable outreach opportunities and provide meaningful support," Thorpe said.
As a direct result of this event, ESVP and I&A plan to take part in similar events in Mississippi and Texas this year.
By Scott Hillkirk, ESVP Communications