Being incarcerated for a long period of time can be a soul-sapping and highly demoralizing experience, but the Cook County Jail in Chicago has recently implemented a barber college training program that is designed to help ex-cons hit the ground running and secure gainful employment upon their release from custody.
A kindhearted man by the name of Larry Roberts Jr. is at the center of the jail’s barber college, which not only provides free instruction and training to men that are soon to be free but also free haircuts and grooming to a wide variety of inmates on any given day. Roberts Jr. owns and operates two highly successful barber colleges and one beauty school in Chicago’s culturally percolating South Side and already has a very heavy workload, but few that know the man closely are surprised by his humanitarianism.
The son of a clergyman, Roberts Jr. has always had a deep compassion for the less fortunate, and the idea of opening a college within a jail that could help men who have made some foolish choices is something that he was anxious to jump on.
Sheriff Tom Dart is merely one of the many thankful members of the community. “He has an incredibly successful operation going, yet he reaches out to us and offers all of this for nothing,” the Sheriff told Steve Metsch at the Southtown Star, adding that no matter what the state of the economy, qualified barbers will always be able to find work.
Tuition to one of the two Larry’s Barbers Colleges runs about $9,000, so the fact that Roberts Jr. has managed to setup free barber training for detainees is especially noble. In a world where few people are willing to lift a finger without being compensated, Roberts Jr. has worked tirelessly and without monetary compensation for a cause that is designed to help society and incarcerated men exponentially.
The impact that the program is having on its participants in undeniable, and many of them lined when presented with the chance to sing its praises. Young men teared up and became overcome with emotion while describing the love that Roberts Jr. puts into the school and the benefits that they are getting from it. Several young men admitted that they had no marketable skills when they found themselves locked up, but have since learned a trade that not only gives them self-confidence and self-worth. This gives them a fighting chance at carving out a successful life for themselves and, most importantly, helps to keep them from returning to jail.