Taking Back Our Neighborhoods: Putting ex-cons to work - WMC Action News 5 - Memphis, Tennessee

Taking Back Our Neighborhoods: Putting ex-cons to work

By Ursula Madden - bio | email

MEMPHIS, TN (WMC-TV) - The Shelby County Division of Corrections is working to Take Back Our Neighborhoods, by keeping ex-cons from becoming repeat offenders.

Debbie Barrett is the Employment Specialist with the Shelby County Division of Corrections Fatherhood Program. Her goal is to keep convicts who graduate from the prison's Fatherhood Rehabilitation Program from coming back.

"We have case management upon their release," she said. "Many of the programs from six months to a year."

To help ex-cons remain on the outside of  prison walls, they need a job. Barrett, along with SCDC Director Andrew Tabor, hopes to convince more business owners to take a chance and hire ex-convicts.

"It's not just an offender getting a job," she said. "The employer will get someone who is trained and motivated to work, will get someone that's actually being monitored, and there are incentives offered by the federal government by way of federal bonding."

Through federal bonding, if the ex-con ruins your equipment or steals from a business, the federal government will cover the cost for the first six months.

There are also tax incentives.

"It is not all risk," Barrett said. "However, there is some risk involved as with any employee that you hire, ex-offender or otherwise."

Barrett knows it's a hard sell to get employers to hire former inmates, but there is a grim guarantee if businesses refuse to take a chance.

"If they don't have a job, if they don't have anything to do everyday, then we know they'll go back to doing what they do best," she said.

The Offender Workforce Development Roundtable will happen next Wednesday, August 25th at Mississippi Blvd Christian Church, from 9:00-3:00.  Registration is free for the session, which is only for employers and businesses leaders.

For more information, email Stephanie Short, Employment Coordinator for the 3R Project at stephanie.short@shelbycountytn.gov or Debbie Barrett, Employment Specialist for the Fatherhood Program debbie.barrett@shelbycountytn.gov

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