Most of us know what it’s like to look for a job when you don’t have one. But imagine doing that after being physically disconnected from your community, perhaps for years, with little education or work experience, and a criminal conviction that you now have to explain to an employer. All this and more (managing housing issues, drug treatment needs and family relationships are three common examples) confront formerly incarcerated people when they come home and need a job.
Last month, the Judge Mathis Show featured an episode on the role played by employment in the lives of people with criminal convictions. The judge, who is himself formerly incarcerated, understands first-hand what it’s like to bear the burden of a criminal past and how important it is to leave that past behind.
That’s why he invited the Center for Employment Opportunities (CEO; an Open Society grantee) and the National HIRE Network on his show. Roberta Meyers-Peeples from HIRE spoke about employment reentry strategies to a roomful of CEO clients who had come home from prison.
Securing a job after prison is crucial not just for the job seekers, but for their families and communities. It also touches on some of the most pressing economic and public policy issues facing us as a country. A successful employment reentry strategy can improve public safety, help governments reduce spending on costly prisons and jails during tough economic times, reduce poverty and joblessness for some of our most disadvantaged citizens and build the economic prosperity of communities. Employment reentry can also promote family stability and a healthier future for millions of children in the United States who have parents in the criminal justice system.
Projects like the one featured on the Judge Mathis Show are designed to help break down barriers to employment for formerly incarcerated people by advocating for policy change and offering “how-to” workshops. With the same goal in mind, for over 30 years, CEO has offered immediate, effective, and comprehensive employment services exclusively to men and women with criminal records.
We applaud Judge Mathis for his commitment to this issue and for bringing it national attention.
CEO is proud to be a founding member of the National HIRE Network and of its continued partnership with them to support the employment needs of formerly incarcerated people.