New state program helping ex-inmates

Saturday, April 14, 2007

Ex-offenders returning to the Cape Girardeau area now have help in finding jobs and acclimating into the community thanks to a program offered through the Missouri Department of Corrections.

Missouri is one of two states chosen by the National Institute of Corrections to adopt the Transition from Prison to Community Initiative last year, said Julie Boehm, manager of the Department of Corrections re-entry program.

Boehm will be a guest speaker from 9 a.m. to noon April 24 at the Missouri Re-entry Process Seminar to be held at the Show Me Center.

The free event is open to the public and in particular to employers to learn the benefits of the program and of hiring offenders.

The Community Caring Council and Southeast Missouri State University partnered with the Department of Corrections' Missouri Partnership for Re-entry last March, said Community Caring Council executive director Tom Davisson.

Together they offer life-skills workshops addressing the needs of offenders returning to their communities, he said.

Salena Hamilton, one of the program's counselors in Cape Girardeau, said 32 offenders to date have participated in the workshops, which are offered the first and third Wednesdays each month at the Community Caring Council.

Participants must be referred by their prison, she said.

Of those referrals, 13 have attended the workshops and one has obtained employment as a result of that effort, she said.

Hamilton said employers have been enthusiastic about the idea of hiring offenders.

Davisson is hoping for a big turnout at the seminar and at a job fair May 23 at the Salvation Army geared toward matching offenders with employers.

335-6611, extension 127

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