The job hunt, tough by any measure, is worse for ex-offenders.
About 6,000 people are released from state and federal prisons back to Tarrant County each year, not counting people emerging from county jail or ones who get deferred adjudication. The recession has slammed some job segments — such as oil fields and construction — known for being more sympathetic to ex-offenders.
At Texas Re-Entry Services, a Fort Worth nonprofit, the number of ex-offenders seeking help to find jobs, housing, GED classes, bus passes and gas vouchers reached 1,400 by the end of July compared with 1,500 for all of 2008.
Last year at this time, the agency was helping 35 clients on average find jobs each month. But that fell to 30 in July and 21 in August, said Barbara Tennyson, the employment specialist. And July’s numbers were double what they were earlier in the year.
Organizers of the county’s second annual Felony and/or Misdemeanor Friendly Community Career Fair on Sept. 25 "will continue to recruit employers until the last possible moment," said Angel Ilarraza, coordinator of the Tarrant County Re-Entry Initiative.
Forty employers set up last year, but fewer — he’s not saying how many — have signed up this year. Fewer than 200 of the 900 job seekers who registered completed required advance work and will be invited to attend. "Not everyone needing a job is employable," Ilarraza said. Motivated ex-offenders can be loyal workers, he said. "These people have something to prove," he said.
At the Texas-funded Project RIO jobs program for ex-offenders on parole or discharged from a Texas prison in the last 12 months, the number of ex-cons served in Tarrant County is expected to rise to 3,500-4,000 in fiscal 2010 from more than 3,000 this year, said Debby Kratky of Workforce Solutions of Tarrant County, RIO’s local administrator.
Sunday, September 13, 2009
'Ex-cons having a tough time finding jobs'
The title of this post is the headline to a Fort Worth Star Telegram piece from their business section published today. Here's a notable excerpt: