About The Program

In June 2017 The Work First Foundation began utilizing a new pretrial initiative in Baltimore. In collaboration with Baltimore City District Court Judge Pastore-Klein, the program refers low-income pretrial defendants to the Work First Foundation for employment instead of forcing them to sit in jail awaiting trial. Judge Pastore-Klein, a firm believer in employment as an alternative to incarceration says, “Baltimore is my home and I wanted to help find a way for the Court to help men and women who are rehabilitating their lives.”

How it Works

When defendants are referred to our program we go over their immediate needs: stable housing, childcare, transportation and professional clothing. Once these initial needs are addressed, we immediately enroll them in job training services including resume building and interview practice.

Once they are fully prepared, we set them up with a sales representative to find an employment position that fits their skills and qualifications.




As Shaqell Ratchford, our first pretrial client, affirms, instead of sitting behind bars this program has “helped me support my family and do something positive.” Employment has had similar positive results for defendants awaiting trial: 

  • 8 district court judges currently refer participants to our program
  • 89% of program participants graduate from training
  • 61% of graduates were placed into employment
  • 75% of participants have their cases dismissed, nolle prosequi ("will no longer prosecute"), or STET (an indefinite postponement).
  • Several have received raises within a six month period