KANSAS CITY, Mo. -- Having a job can be one of the most important factors in making sure a convicted felon doesn’t end up in trouble again. That’s why several local groups are coming together, to help felons find work.
KCPD’s east patrol community room was packed with convicted felons Thursday. But the men and women weren’t there to get booked. Instead, they’re taking the first step to turning their lives around.
“In the state, you’ll see a 54.4 percent increase in recidivism after three years. So that shows people are getting released, they want to find ways to re-assimilate into society and more often than not they can’t find a job. So then we have high crime, everything that sprawls out,” said Rep. Brandon Ellington/(D) Mo-District 22.
That’s why the state rep is bringing together opportunities for a second chance.
“I want to show people that have just been released from prison—they sky’s the limit. As long as you have dedication, determination and will to do better, you can always do it. Never let nobody tell you that you can’t do it,” said York Wilson, a recently released felon who is employed and helped organize the felon job fair.
Several local employers, community agencies and colleges came to talk with convicted criminals about opportunities for a better future.
“I know how it is to not have a job coming out. Luckily, our company gave me a chance so now we’re reaching the hand back out to everybody else,” said David Krugman with Ad Pros.
Krugman says having a job he loves has given him a sense of purpose and has helped keep him out of trouble for years.
“It is a good feeling. It’s very fulfilling because I’ve been there and know how it is and I don’t want anybody to feel like they don’t have somewhere to go,” Krugman said.
The effort is already paying off. Some job seekers at Thursday’s event left with an offer to work.
“That means the world. I can help take care of the family and I can move on to better things,” said Darwin Beane, who landed a job.
For those still looking, the road can be tough. But now Maurice Martin feels confidence seeing the community’s support to help him succeed.
“I just see doors opening for me. It’s a blessing in its whole for me but I’m confident in myself and my abilities so I see nothing but good things ahead,” said Martin.
And a new state law takes effect January 1st that will help some felons have their records wiped clean, which could help in finding jobs. Rep. Ellington says he hopes that measure will be greatly expanded to help even more people with less serious offenses to get a fresh start. He’s also planning to host other job related events for felons.