Time Served, Lessons Learned: Troy Graves

TROY GRAVES, 52, was under house arrest for 18 months as the result of a gun possession charge. Following his release, Graves got a job at Ford Motor Company’s assembly plant by way of Teamwork Englewood’s re-entry program. Out nearly two years, Graves is now expecting a child.

On why he chose to work with Ford Motor Company:

I was fortunate through [the re-entry program] that the judge insisted I [try]. I was put on house arrest for 18 months. While on house arrest I was approached by Corey Buchanan with the welding program.

The welding program was a 20-week program, I finished that class and received my certificate of completion. During that time, different people would come in and speak to us—that’s how I met Mr. Mark Mitchell, who came in as a job assistant.

Everyone wanted a welding job because that’s what we were doing. Mr. Mitchell said, “Anybody want to work at Ford?” Nobody wanted to work at Ford, everybody wanted to be a welder.

On employment stability:

I guess by me being older and knowing the importance of having a job and being able to pay bills, Mr. Mitchell got me an application at Ford and about three weeks later I had an interview there.

When applying for jobs I was always asked what have you done in the last three months, six months or year; my answer was “I was in jail for nine months.”

What you get from me is I’m drug-free, I know the importance of staying out of jail and being on time. Everything in jail deals with time, and there are no clocks, but it’s all about time.

On second chances: 

“The judge took a chance on me, the welding [instructor] took a chance on me and now I’m asking you to take a chance on me.” That was the hardest part about getting a job after being incarcerated.

On his time in prison: 

What I found out in prison is I have a disorder in which I like to have things neat and in line. And not to swing at every pitch thrown at me. Before incarceration, it was hard to tell me something bad because I would react quickly. I learned to be a little more patient and hear what I was told and let it resonate.

On current struggles: 

Leaving jail is not the end of the world. You got to keep your faith and know that there is something greater for you out there.

To read more from the ex-offenders we talked to, check out the upcoming edition of Echo Magazine.