Hundreds line up for "second chance"

MEMPHIS, TN (WMC-TV) - Hundreds of convicted felons lined up in Memphis Monday in hopes of getting a second chance and a job.

The programs goal is to find jobs for people who have paid their debt to society. However, the program is also a sober warning for anyone who might think about committing a crime.

When Memphis Mayor Willie Herenton's second chance job program opened at 7 am Monday morning, some applicants had already been in line since midnight.

"I'll take a minimum wage job. Anything $5 an hour. I'm in just that bad of a need of a job, you know," job applicant Oscar Wright said.

It is the kind of desperation you can see among people who have been convicted of a crime.

Men, women, young, and old are learning that even after you have served your time, getting someone to hire you can be tough.

"And me, I have a couple of  felonies. I have been going to temporary services for the last three weeks and the first thing they pull up is a background check. So with a background check you can't get a job in a temporary service," Wright said.

The Mayor's second chance program is aimed at giving people with one felony help in finding work.

Since 2001, the city has worked with local companies, finding jobs in areas from the transit authority to the housing authority.

Those fortunate enough to get into the second chance program will also get job training and help earning a GED.  There is strict monitoring, and if you have more than one felony you cannot participate.

Many said the bottom line is participating in crime is not worth it and can make finding a job more difficult.

The application process for the Second chance program is offered four times a year. The next one is scheduled for December 28th.

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