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:
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.


Anonymous said...

It is tough for ex-cons to find a job, I'm thankful for the one I have. My employer knows I will do everything I can to hold on to my freedom because I know how very valuable it is. I'm probably less of a risk to him than some of the youngsters I work with who don't know how tough it is to get locked up. I hope other ex-cons looking for work will remind prospective employers of this fact.

Anonymous said...

I wonder how much money is being spent by this agency and how many folks actually found work with their help.

I wonder how many of the people working at this agency are ex-offenders.

I wonder when the government of Texas will figure out that the cost of incarceration is far greater than the alternatives. WE should be changing the laws to encourage rather than prohibit employment of ex-offenders!

PirateFriedman said...

Definitely a tough situation to be in.

If I were an excon I think I might try landscaping. It's freelance, so there's no background check. The downside is you can't really work in the winter. Even better might be to do some kind of freelance home remodelling if you have the skills.

The other good option is to have a family member who will employ you.

Anonymous said...

What a joke! I was going through one of the work-training programs, but was run out by the instructor-led ( ex-Guantanamo prison gaurd ) ex-convict gang, all touting mosquito ringtones and a variety of other torture inducing methods of getting people to quit the jobs program, not to mention multiple car break-ins and a cracked windshield, which I reported to the police- who did nothing. All of this while attending a re-entry training program. Perhaps more attention should be given to why only 200 out of the 700 are being invited, why the others are not being invited, why they are considered more unemployable than the 200, and why people are not completing the requirements ( in other words, are they being tortured until they quit? ).

sunray's wench said...

Pirate ~ if an inmate has been incarcerated for more than 7 years, they are highly unlikely to have any contact with family on the outside. Long prison terms do nothing to help reintegrate offenders.

Anonymous said...

"I'm as mad as hell and I'm not going to take it anymore!" The movie, Network...a classic. But it's more than just a network anchor gone's about when people are at their breaking point mentally. Incarceration is just that....a way of pushing you to the edge and beyond and then society wonders when one breaks and wreak havoc. Unless we truly help to reintegrate convicts or build other systems to address crime rather than incarceration we are doomed.We are still evolving as creatures and won't get it, if ever!

Anonymous said...

Well said 6:24 am ...

When will our communities begin to do their part to welcome back and open the door to those returning to our communities from prison.

Question: If there is no place at the community table for them, why should they live by the rules that govern the community?

PirateFriedman said...

Question: If there is no place at the community table for them, why should they live by the rules that govern the community?

Being unemployed is no excuse to commit theft or violence.

Unknown said...

My son who is 20 has a felony conviction due to his stupidity while in high school -- fraudulent use of ID -- (he bought gas using his girlfriend's credit card -- which his girlfriend gave him). Now, while on probation, his PO is demanding that he find a job. This young man is willing to do ANYTHING, but no one will hire him once they do a background check.

How many times can you have the door slammed in your face before you finally just give up?

Anonymous said...

Pirate Rothbard, you're missing the point. For an individual to feel he should respect the collective will of society, if he is repeatedly pounded into the ground by that society, told in essence they could care less if he starves or dies like a dog in the streets, he's not going to care. It's not a matter of "not having a promising career is not an excuse to commit a crime" it's "you don't have a dollar to your name, nobody cares if you live or die, you'll do what you have to do". As the economy gets even worse, if that can be imagined, emergency services for the poor are being overtaxed and we WILL have ex cons starving and homeless and quite desperate for basic human sustainance.

PirateFriedman said...

04:22:00 AM,

I do get your point. When society doesn't hire ex-offenders they have less incentive to behave. So recidivism might increase.

On the other hand, those with no criminal record will have more incentive to stay out of trouble. So the number of first time offenders might decrease.

Hard to say if the first effect will outweigh the second.

I will say this: I am not too concerned about offenders starving to death, as there is plenty of food left over in the dumpsters each night. Starvation just doesn't happen in America, unless your tied up. Moreover, starvation is a real phenomena in other countries and I'd rather give help to them than an offender in the US.

At any rate, I don't blame small businessmen for not hiring many offenders. They are concerned with the safety of their employees, of their families and their economic well being.