Most of the 20,000 men and women who will return to Chicago from prisons across the state this year will struggle to find any employer willing to overlook a felony record, says the Chicago Tribune. About two-thirds of them will end up committing another crime, and about half will be back in prison within the next three years. Programs across the city are designed to help ex-offenders, teaching basic resume and cover letter writing skills and explaining proper behavior in the workplace. Experts say there are enough programs to help, at best, about 15 percent of returning parolees.
One, called U-Turn Permitted, is an intense four-week course involving anger management, behavior modification, mock job interviews, and assistance with job placement. Those who make it through have a better chance of finding a job. About 70 percent eventually get hired, compared with about 40 percent of ex-offenders who get no help at all. Still, it’s an uphill battle, as members of this class will learn. One of the first homework assignments is to answer a question central to employment: Have you ever been convicted of a felony?