Job fair gives people with felonies on their records a second chance

Felons struggle to move beyond their criminal records. Bureau of Justice statistics show almost 70 percent of prisoners released in 30 states in 2005 were arrested for a new crime within three years.

That cycle makes it hard for former inmates to get jobs. That’s why the Kentucky Career Center partnered with the West Kentucky Reentry Center to hold a job fair for people with felony arrest records.

Darrell Rager spends his time at a career center getting help in his search for a job. "In order to have your freedom back we need to have a job, so you can have your own space and your own car," Rager said.

Rager spent two and a half years in prison for assault before moving to a halfway house in Paducah about a month ago. He says filling out applications can be discouraging.

"You don’t really know if they’ll accept your interview or not. Where you can have personality of one-on-one when you do a walk in or drive up, and you can see your potential employers there," Rager said.

On Thursday he got that chance at a job fair for people with a felony on their records. They were able to sit for interviews and apply with four different employers in our area without their records being a barrier.

The Kentucky Career Center says it’s a challenge finding more than five or six employers who want to hire on former inmates.

"I once was a person coming in between these doors asking for help whenever I got laid off from my job" said Dillard’s Sales Support Manager Brianna Hill.

Hill was happy to talk to felons about temporary positions on Thursday, with the busy holiday season coming up.

"These guys legit-ly want to contribute and pull their weight," Hill said. 

Rager said he is excited to find out what opportunities he has ahead.

The Kentucky Career Center says this was the first time it held this type of job fair. It will hold another one in the spring.

Commonwealth Attorney Dan Boaz was also at Thursday’s job fair getting the word out about a new expungement law that went into effect in July.

The law could wipe certain nonviolent felonies off your record.

"It’s a tool to try and help somebody who committed a crime, probably when they were down in their lives, and they’re working their way back up. And so, it enables them to be a contributing member of the community again," Boaz said.

Because the law is still so new, Boaz says he’s had about 10 motions filed for expungement in McCracken County.

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