Working ex-cons

Wednesday, June 6, 2007

When former convicts return to society and try to rebuild their lives, one of the first roadblocks they encounter is going through the hiring process with a prison record. But a statewide initiative called the Missouri Re-entry Process aims to help ex-cons overcome some of those barriers and help them become wage-earning, taxpaying citizens.

The initiative held a job fair in Cape Girardeau, sponsored by the Community Caring Council at the Salvation Army, for ex-convicts. More than 80 participants had an opportunity to meet with counselors and representatives from a dozen prospective employers. The ex-cons also received offers of personalized assistance in creating resumes.

There is an incentive for Missouri employers to hire employees with criminal records: a $2,400 tax credit. But just as important is the fact that individuals who have made mistakes are willing to make the effort to turn their lives around. Being employed is a crucial step in that effort.

Lawbreakers who have paid their debt to society and find jobs are less likely to become repeat offenders. The Missouri Re-entry Process initiative is a win-win-win situation for ex-cons, employers and taxpayers have to pay the costs of incarceration.

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