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Second Chance: Helping convicted felons find jobs - SPECIAL REPORT from Lisa Olliges

Updated:

by LISA OLLIGES

Unemployment is around 9%, but the jobless rate for convicted felons locally is 27%.

"People can't change if you won't give them the chance to change," says Sandra Bentlage, an ex-offender.  "By giving somebody the chance you open yourself to having an excellent employee.  You get people that will work hard and are dedicated to you because you've given them that chance."

Some get a foot in the door through temporary agencies but many face obstacles getting to work.

The Career Center says they are competing with thousands of others for jobs.  Transportation is also a problem.

Kathy Wilson opened the Hope Chest after trying to help felons find work.  She came up with a list of ten reasons to hire them, including tax incentives and a federal bonding program.

"Most of all the offenders themselves they don't want to go back to prison," says Wilson.  "They're under supervision.  They get drug tested randomly.  They have to report to their PO (parole officer).  I mean there's accountability there they're not going to have with other employees."

Tonight on KOAM News at 6 hear from experts and felons about the struggle to earn a living.

And tonight on KOAM News at 10 we learn more about the obstacles ex-offenders face in getting jobs and who is trying to help.

To learn how you can help contact Teddy Steen of the Missouri Reentry Steering Committee at 417.540.6313.

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