Felon job seekers working to transform their lives
SHREVEPORT, LA (KSLA) - An ArkLaTex business is helping felons who may be struggling to get their lives back on track.
A recent study found 76-percent of former inmates said they found it difficult or nearly impossible to find a job. Nearly two-thirds of those surveyed were unemployed five years after being released.
Research shows a link between finding a job and not going back to prison. The number of re-offenders is known as the recidivism rate. That rate has actually dropped 5-percent in the last decade, according to figures provided by the Louisiana Department of Corrections.
But that's of little consolation to those struggling to find work right now.
"You cannot be a law-abiding citizen in this world today with a conviction. It's almost impossible," said Bryan Britton.
Britton speaks from experience. Ever since his release from prison three years ago, Britton said several companies have hired him only to let him go once they discover he served 8 years for aggravated robbery.
"Once people see that, no matter what they see in you and the potential that you can bring to their team and their brand that's irrelevant. Once they see that conviction you're nothing anymore," added Britton.
While Britton vows not to become a re-offender, he says he understands the temptation out of sheer desperation.
"That is exactly why people re-offend, most definitely," said Britton. "It's not that they want to. It's just the fact that life still goes on. You have to live, to take care of yourself. Some people have families they have to maintain."
State figures show within 5 years of an offender's release in Louisiana nearly 43-percent return to prison; known as the recidivism rate.
Britton's bail bondswoman 11 years ago, Jeanie Harris, says she sees it all too often.
"A lot of them, with the repeat offenders, they're suggesting that how else were they going to make it," said Harris.
While finding a job as a convicted felon may be a challenge it's not impossible. In fact, the road could start somewhere like Goodwill Industries.
Goodwill has a job center and places anywhere from 80 to 100 people every single month with some of the hundreds of businesses they work with on a regular basis.
In fact, Goodwill representatives say 30-percent of their clients have a criminal record.
"We have special relationships with people in the community that are employers in the community that are willing to hire people with backgrounds," said Goodwill Workforce Development Manager Cecilia Garceau.
Their services even include getting their clients what they call 'work ready,' helping with everything from resumes to learning job interview skills before matching them with a potential employer.
Late Tuesday afternoon Britton said he has an interview set up for Wednesday with Goodwill.
His former bail bondswoman, Jeanie Harris says she also has Britton in mind for when she plans to expand her business in a few months.
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