It’s difficult for ex-felons to find steady jobs even in good times, with unemployment rates as high as 75 percent one year out of prison,, the Associated Press reports. During the worst recession in a quarter century, it can be almost impossible. Groups trying to change that see hope in a $50 million project tucked into the federal budget that aims to prove that spending money on the hardest to employ, including ex-offenders, is as worthwhile as helping the middle class.
The Chicago-based Safer Foundation finds employers willing to hire ex-felons outright and provides a case manager. Officials say 13 percent of ex-felons who received support and employment services returned to prison or jail after three years, compared with 52 percent for Illinois ex-offenders overall. In New York, the Center for Employment Opportunities assembles work crews of five to 10 ex-felons who perform maintenance and repair services for state or city agencies.