Studies indicate that when people are released from prison, their greatest concern is finding a job. Some are no longer young, others are inexperienced and there are those who still struggle with substance abuse and other issues.
However, at both state and federal levels, there is a push to help former inmates find work. In South Carolina, the initiatives are working.
Low unemployment opens the door
The unemployment numbers are low in South Carolina, and businesses in our state are having trouble finding enough people to fill job openings. Enter the former inmate. While in prison, many people obtain their high school or college degrees, while others hone their skills in work they know or participate in training for new job opportunities.
Checking the box
Former inmates often have promising job interviews, but applications normally have a section with a little box that indicates whether the applicant has a criminal history. Background checks are common, and when the interviewer sees that the box has been checked, he or she is likely to choose an applicant with a clean record.
The pilot program
In 2014, the State Department of Employment and Workforce opened a pilot program called Second Chance. Unlike programs that focus on training for specific kinds of jobs, this one assists inmates in writing a resume, applying for a position and preparing for job interviews. The program also provides guidance on the important task of explaining a conviction to a potential employer. One facility at which the program has been successful is the Manning Correctional Institution in Columbia. In addition to programs like this one, state and federal agencies have put together other incentives such as job fairs specifically for the benefit of former inmates.
Finding the way back
For those who are coming out of prison, landing a job can be a tremendous confidence-builder. While they are incarcerated, people have a lot of time to think about their future, and being able to earn an honest living provides stability and goes a long way toward helping former inmates rejoin society.