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Ex-cons Looking For Work

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Ex-cons Looking For Work

By Rebekah Rae. CREATED Nov 11, 2013

 Omaha, NE - The key to keeping Omaha streets safe, may lie within employers.  An ex-offender with a job is less likely to re-offend, at least that is what the department of corrections is hoping.  

Through an offender specialist program, the Douglas county Department of Corrections partnered with Heartland Workforce Solutions to teach ex-cons how to apply for a job once they re-enter the public.  
 
"They need a way to support themselves legitimately or they're going to go back to doing things the way they survived in the past," said Michael Meyers, a community corrections manager for the jail.  "If we want our community to be safer, then we need to help them overcome those barriers that face them and employment is one of the biggest barriers."
 
Looking for work as a felon is a challenge.  Often after being released from jail, an ex-offender expects to find a job quickly, according to David Pollock, an employment specialist.  "Once they're constantly hearing a no, no, no, that's when the motivation begins to decrease," and without work, an ex-con is more likely to turn to crime. 
 
Pollock teaches job skills including how to fill out resumes and applications.  "I coach them on how to effectively communicate about their criminal background, a lot of them will either say too much, they won't say enough or they'll lie because they're excited about the opportunity for an interview."  
 
Since the $400 thousand dollar grant-funded program became available in January, more than 120 people have received help with job skills.  Nearly 45% have found work.
 
Offenders who are housed at Douglas county Corrections or state facilities, parole and probation are eligible for the program.  
 
To get help visit Heartland Workforce Solutions at 5752 Ames Avenue or online at http://www.hws-ne.org.