Used suits, blouses needed to help La. prisoners dress for success upon release

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Businessman Fixing Cufflinks his Suit

NEW ORLEANS — Those old suits and blouses taking up room in your closet can now go to a good cause.

The Louisiana Department of Public Safety and Corrections is partnering with Men’s Wearhouse and Refined by Fire Ministries to give releasing offenders assistance in looking for a job and dressing for the part.

Men’s Wearhouse locations across Louisiana will accept interview-appropriate men’s and women’s clothing July 1-31.

Donations of gently used and clean items such as suits, dress shirts, jackets, dress skirts, outerwear, ties, belts and shoes will all be accepted.

More than 16,500 men and women were released from state custody back into Louisiana communities in 2016. Many face obstacles making a successful and permanent transition.

“Finding employment is probably the biggest challenge men and women face after incarceration, but it is one of the big predictors of success if they can land a steady job,” said Corrections Secretary James M. Le Blanc. “DOC works to prepare offenders educationally and through job application and interview preparation. The public can contribute to a person’s reintegration into society by donating professional clothing to people who are starting over.”

Having a polished, professional look is critical to making a good first impression. The annual effort is known as the “Michael Ellerbe Legacy Suit Drive” in honor of the former pre-release director at Dixon Correctional Institute.

“We are proud to continue my late husband’s legacy of assisting returning citizens to reenter society,“ said Elain Ellerbe, founder and president emeritus of Refined By Fire Ministries, Inc., the Louisiana Department of Corrections’ non-profit partner in this effort. “By providing our men and women who are returning home with appropriate clothing to go on job interviews or attend religious services with their families, we are giving them confidence and assurance that they can be successful after leaving prison.”