Ex-Offender Employment

Finding a job after prison or residential treatment

One of the great hindrances to lasting victory for students coming out of residential treatment or prison is a lack of a job. Without one it is hard to save money for a car, for rent, for food and other necessities. We partner with local government and private services to help people find employment, change careers (career training) and even those with a criminal past seeking employment (ex-offenders). If you are searching for help in this area these resources are a good place to start. For further questions please contact us.

Where to Start

Ohio has passed Senate Bill 337, which reforms “collateral sanctions” in Ohio. “The new law, which takes effect in three months, will allow a person to seal one felony and one misdemeanor conviction or two misdemeanor convictions, but not two felony convictions. It also creates a certificate of qualification that will give felons access to some occupational licenses that they previously could not obtain, for jobs such as truck driver and barber.” (Cleveland Plain Dealer, June 26 2012)

This might be the best place to start for many: read a summary of the bill here, the full text here or check with your county court house to learn how to apply. Other states have similar laws and it might be worth checking this option out first if you live outside of Ohio.

Job Seekers

  • Ohio County Job and Family Services Agencies. This .pdf file has a list of every county agency. for Portage County, find the number for County Department of Job and Family Services and Portage Workforce Connection. Both agencies work to help ex-offenders (and the unemployed) get jobs. If you are not in Ohio, browse your state website to get the one applicable for your state.
  • Ex Convicts Search for Employment. Looking for a job is no piece of cake for anyone, but when ex-convicts search for employment, they’re faced with additional challenges. (red more via lovetoknow.com)
  • The National H.I.R.E. Network: This group’s whole mission is to help ex-convicts find their place in society. You’ll need a membership to reap the benefits, but it’s free. They also help you find employment search assistance in your local area. This is a goldmine of information for ex-convicts searching for jobs. Check out the resources and assistance in Ohio here.
  • One Stop Career Center: There is a one-stop career center in each major metropolitan area and many smaller communities throughout the United States. A partnership between federal and state job seeker assistance agencies, registering with the center in your area is a great way to jump start your job search. Meet with a counselor and be honest about your background so that the person who is trying to help you knows what you are facing. He or she will likely have contacts in the local area with employers and other resources for people who are transitioning from the criminal justice system back into the workforce. The Job Bank for Ohio is here at ohiomeansjobs.com

Helps for Ex-Felons

“More than 10,000 felons will come back to Northeast Ohio this year after serving time in state prisons. Of that number, 7,000 will return to Cleveland, according to the Cuyahoga County Office of Reentry.” (see article here)

Community agencies are available to assist ex-felons find employment. This information will inform individuals with criminal records about government agencies and community-based organizations that assist with employment, education or vocational training. Researchers and policy makers may find this information useful in identifying agencies and service providers in order to evaluate the effectiveness of these programs. Again, this is Ohio-centric. If you are not in this state you will have to find your states version of these.

  • Giving Ex-Offenders a Chance Helps All of Us – includes a brief checklist for ex-offenders seeking employment.
  • Community Connections Ohio. Community Connection for Ohio Offenders, Inc., is a private non-profit agency that provides inmates reentering Ohio’s communities from prison, a comprehensive, systematic continuum of services, including but not limited to employment, pro-social skill development, and linkages to community services and resources.
  • Towards Employment. Toward Employment supports individuals in making the transition into the work place. In addition to supportive services, the agency offers job readiness and life skills workshops, GED preparation, and computer skills instruction. Job placement and job retention support is also offered to participants. Towards Employment has offered its services to low-income individuals and recently assumed management and delivery of the “Ex-offenders and Legal Services” programs formerly offered by Cleveland Works.
  • AGAPE/Community Reentry Program. The Community Reentry Program is an outgrowth of the AGAPE prison ministries program. Both programs are part of Christians in the Hood, a faith-based organization. Transition planning begins during incarceration focusing on developing life plans and identifying goals and issues that will be faced upon release. When an individual is released from prison, a needs assessment is done to determine the appropriate level of assistance required. Linkages are made with community agencies to further individual goals. Employment resources, accountability group counseling and educational services are all provided.
  • Goodwill Industries. Goodwill Industries of Cleveland, Inc. has a Post-Release Service Center which offers individualized services to help clients overcome personal barriers to employment, including assistance with substance abuse, anger management, financial management, job seeking, clothing, housing, and food. Each client undergoes an initial evaluation upon intake to identify individual needs. Goodwill has a database of employers with whom it has long relationships, who know that all clients have criminal records and who let the organization know when they have possible openings.

Books and Other Resources

In five years the only difference will be the books you read and the people you meet. You’ve met some good people along the way, start reading some books. Besides, a little preparation for the soon-to-be job interview couldn’t hurt.

Self-Employment Strategies

More ex-felons on the streets are chasing fewer jobs due to the economy and high recidivism. If work won’t come to you then go out and make it happen. This should spark your creative interests.