Breaking News
More () »

Cleveland job fair offers formerly incarcerated persons a 'second chance'

The job fair, which took place Friday at the Hough Center, helped justice-involved individuals find employment through on-site job interviews and resume assistance.

CLEVELAND — Editor's Note: The above video is from a 2019 story about Edwin's Bakery, a business dedicated to employing and training formerly incarcerated individuals. 

The Cuyahoga County Office of Reentry and Northeast Ohio VA Healthcare System partnered Friday to host the fourth annual Breaking Down Barriers Hiring Event, a job fair aimed at helping formerly incarcerated persons seek jobs and remove legal barriers in the hiring process.

At the event at the Hough Center, which was free open to the public, jobseekers were able to participate in onsite interviews with employers and receive other employment resources such as assistance with resume writing. According to a news release sent by Office of Reentry, over 40 employers and community organizations set up booths and took part in the job fair.

"The County is proud to partner with organizations dedicated to providing opportunities to those eager to turn their lives around and become productive members of the community," said Cuyahoga County Executive Armond Budish. "Cuyahoga County is committed to being able to bring employers and community resources together to show our commitment to hiring and breaking down barriers to provide opportunities for our citizens."

Research has long pointed to an association between employment and reduced recidivism in communities. A 2004 study by the United States Sentencing Commission found that recidivism rates are slashed by 40 percent if formerly incarcerated individuals are able to find employment within one year of reentering society. 

But those individuals often face undue barriers in finding employment after release. A 2018 report by the Prison Policy Initiative found that while the foremost indicator of individuals who re-offend is poverty, the unemployment rate among formerly incarcerated people was nearly five times higher than in the general U.S. population -- and higher than the unemployment rate among the general population at any point in history including the Great Depression.

Barriers to employment are even steeper for formerly incarcerated individuals who are Black or Hispanic: the PPI calculated the unemployment rate among formerly incarcerated Black women ages 35-44 as 43.6 percent.

These issues are what events like Friday’s job fair are instrumental in addressing, said Simeon L. Best, director of the Cuyahoga County Office of Reentry.

"Through events like these, we seek to create employment opportunities for justice-involved individuals that will aid in their successful reintegration," said Best. "We believe in second chances, and we join our community partners in helping to provide second chances to restore our citizens."

The county and the Northeast Ohio VA credited partner organizations including Cuyahoga Community College, Ohio Means Jobs, Center for Employment Opportunities, Oriana House, West Side Catholic Center, Volunteers for America and PCs for people, among others, with support in staging the event.

RELATED: EDWINS Bakery opens in Cleveland's Buckeye-Shaker neighborhood today

Paid Advertisement

Before You Leave, Check This Out