Ex-offenders face a variety of barriers as they attempt to re-enter society after serving their prison sentence. Individuals with criminal backgrounds often find it difficult to obtain employment and, in some instances, housing.
The reasons for these barriers are varied. Many employers are reluctant to hire ex-offenders due to concerns about their criminal history; in other instances, company rules and policies may prohibit the hiring of ex-offenders who were convicted of certain types of crimes. For example, an individual who was convicted of writing bad checks would not be able to obtain employment at a bank because the crime for which they were convicted involved fraud in the area of finances.
In many cases, the difficulties in finding employment may be caused by the ex-offender’s lack of education or training. Many former offenders lack basic job search skills or appropriate interview techniques. Difficulty in finding suitable housing may be due to an absence of family support, actual legal restrictions and limited resources.
Here is a list of assistance programs, organizations, and other resources that are available to ex-offenders in Florida to assist them in reintegrating into society.
Careersource Central Florida
CareerSource Central Florida offers a one-hour workshop to ex-offenders, providing them with valuable information on the barriers ex-offenders typically face as they seek to re-enter society, with specific strategies and tips to overcome those barriers. The workshop covers a variety of topics, including job training, strategies for finding a job and other resources to help ex-offenders overcome employment barriers. They also offer other resources online.
Abe Brown Ministry
Abe Brown ministry is a faith-based program in Tampa that has created a 12-month program called the “Transitional Living Program”. This program accepts a limited number of motivated ex-offenders. It is designed to provide safe and appropriate housing, render assistance in locating suitable employment and maintains a mentoring program to help the ex-offender prepare to rejoin society.
His Healing Hand
His Healing Hand is a non-denominational ministry working with ex-offenders in the Orlando area. This ministry works with ex-offenders to locate employment, housing, obtain job training and more. This website maintains a list of companies willing to hire ex-offenders. It also maintains a partnership with Final Freedom Aftercare, which offers similar services in Orange and Seminole Counties.
Sex Offender Housing of Florida
Sex Offender Housing of Florida assists ex-offenders with locating safe and appropriate housing throughout the state of Florida. Contact the website for an application and details. Housing availability depends upon meeting the criteria of each possible placement.
Pinellas County Ex-Offender Re-Entry Coalition
Pinellas County Ex-Offender Re-Entry Coalition (PERC) was established to assist ex-offenders make the difficult transition back into society. This coalition works with ex-offenders to find employment, housing and transportation. PERC helps ex-offenders with the preparation of resumes and also helps prepare them for the all-important job interview process. The website contains information on a variety of other services available to help ex-offenders successfully reintegrate into society.
Opportunities Industrialization Center of South Florida
Opportunities Industrialization Center (OIC) of South Florida recognizes the difficulties experienced by ex-offenders seeking gainful employment upon their return to society. OIC offers a structured program designed to provide the tools necessary for an ex-offender to obtain meaningful employment; these include computer skills, resume preparation, interview skills and job interview presentation. OIC also has a mentoring program and provides each participant with a care coordinator who works with the individual one-on-one to assist them in obtaining employment.
Transition, Inc. is a service center dedicated to provide job training and job placement services to ex-offenders in the Miami area. Transitions, Inc. maintains a database containing 3800 employers willing to provide meaningful employment to ex-offenders. Transition, Inc. also provides employment interview training designed to help ex-offenders acquire the skills to present themselves in a professional manner when seeking employment.
Ex-offenders.net is a website containing a great deal of information for ex-offenders seeking employment, such as lists of employers who are willing to hire qualified ex-offenders as well as links to websites of various Florida reentry programs. The ex-offender will need to visit the individual employment sites or websites in order to apply for employment.
Project 180 was created to provide ex-offenders with a structured apprenticeship program, designed to fully prepare them to reintegrate successfully into society. Project 180 offers training in organic farming, business and construction. The paid apprenticeship program is designed to last two years, during which time the ex-offender will receive housing, education and training. Applicants do not need any formal education in order to apply for the program. Applicants will also receive valuable networking contacts in order to further their successful reintegration into society at the completion of the apprenticeship program.
Clifford Hills Community Outreach Center, Inc.
Clifford Hill Community Outreach Center, Inc. in Tampa is a faith-based program created to assist ex-offenders find safe and suitable housing upon their release from incarceration. Upon acceptance into the program, ex-offenders will be placed in a furnished apartment (no deposit required) and will be given suitable clothing. The program even offers to pick up ex-offenders from the local bus stop, if possible. Participants are also offered employment opportunities.
Operation New Hope
The nationally recognized Ready4Work program is designed to help ex-offenders successfully re-enter society by utilizing a whole person approach. Participants are provided with case management services and receive life coaching as part of the program; they will also participate in job training and ultimately receive assistance with job placement. The program is not available to ex-offenders who committed sexual crimes or violent crimes. Once a candidate is accepted into the program, the client will receive up to two months’ worth of employment training, valuable referrals and coaching in order to help them find gainful employment.
Prisontalk.com is a huge online resource for ex-offenders and family members of inmates. On this website, there is a vast amount of information to help ex-offenders network with each other and find tips and strategies on locating gainful employment, suitable housing and more.
These specialized resources and websites will provide ex-offenders and family members seeking information on job opportunities and housing resources with a good starting point for their initial internet searches. Other generalized search engines such as www.craigslist.com and www.simplyhired.com are excellent starting points for online job searches.
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