(Memphis) If you own a business, would you take a chance hiring a felon?
It's what one Shelby County program wants you to do.
It's under the Office of Re-Entry, that’s trying to place people coming out of prison with jobs.
Even with interview advice, a degree and a resume, some people still have trouble landing a job.
“People are struggling to find jobs and for people with a felony conviction, it`s twice as difficult,” said Stanley Lipford, the administrator for the Memphis and Shelby County Office of Re-Entry.
“I have been filling out applications all around the city of Memphis,” said Willie Blue. “It’s been seven months!”
Released from prison last July, Blue says he's still waiting on an employer to give him a chance. So is Gregory.
“If they could give me a chance, I could prove that to them and be an asset to a company, a great asset,” said Gregory Langhorn, who is certified to be an A/C technician.
Both men are in Shelby County's re-entry program.
They were selected to participate because while incarcerated they showed determination to succeed.
The program offers encouragement not to give up and asks employers to take a chance on them.
“Someone who is ready to be employed and ready to go to work,” said Lipford.
Right now, the Re-Entry Office has 10 employers it works with, willing to hire ex-offenders. It would like to triple that number.
Lipford says while some people don't think finding ex-criminals jobs is important, he says it prevents crime by keeping felons on the straight and narrow, “Why should we stand in the way of them coming back into our community and being productive citizens?”
“I have a lot to offer an employer, it’s just getting someone to say ‘yes’,” said Langhorn.
If you are an employer who is willing to give an ex-offender a chance at an entry-level job or a position that requires skills, give the reentry program a call at 901-222-4557.