Jobless Crisis Hitting Ex-Offenders Much Harder

CHICAGO (CBS) — The Illinois unemployment rate is up again; it now stands at 10.1 percent. But there’s one group facing a jobless rate five times worse: ex-convicts.

Most former convicts want badly to work, but most employers are not interested in hiring them.

As CBS 2’s Mike Parker reports, there are people who want to help ex-offenders get jobs.

Steven Ray has been out of work since March, when he was released from prison. He’d finished three years for aggravated battery with a firearm.

“It’s very rough, once you get that ‘X’ on your back,” he said. “Most (employers) say that they’re not looking for anyone with a felony background.”

This year, some 35,000 Illinois convicts will finish their sentences. Most will return to Chicago, where the unemployment rate among ex-offenders is – not surprisingly – very high.

Steven McCullough, chief operating officer of Safer Foundation, an outreach group for former felons, said, “It’s astronomical. It has to exceed – it definitely exceeds 50 percent.”

Safer Foundation helps teach ex-offenders job discipline and helps them obtain GEDs and learn fundamentals, like filling out a job application. They also try to link up job seekers with willing employers.

Will Hall got that help and got a job, even after doing hard time for cocaine possession. He was hired by the Five Guys burger chain and has risen to running his own restaurant. Now he is hiring ex-offenders himself through Safer.

“It’s nice to know that, at the end of the day, you’re giving somebody a second hope. And, you know, Hopefully it’s keeping the guys from going back,” Hall said.

McCullough said, “We look at employment of people with criminal records as public safety as well as growing the economy. The more people working – the safer our neighborhoods are.”

“I have hope. I think something’s going to happen,” Ray said. “I’m not going to give up, either; not at all.”

The folks at Safer Foundation want people to ponder this question: who would you rather have next door, a former inmate or a former inmate with a job?

More from Mike Parker
  • Sal P.

    Thousands of iilegal aliens are employed in Il.I challenge CBS Chicago to investigate the dozen opon dozen Temp. agencys scattered thoughout the city and suburbs and you will see what I mean.Maybe by exposing their scam these ex-offender will have some of those jobs available to them.

  • Porch Monkey

    I love how the PC c@ ck su ckers get comments deleted!!! Whatever happened to the FREEDOM TO SPEAK THE TRUTH!??

  • Jim Hamilton

    Most of theseanimals shouldn’t be back out in society anyways.

  • Jim Hamilton

    as far as that last question in the article goes. Would I rather live next door to a murdering, raping, thief or live next door to a murdering, raping, thief with a job? whats the difference?

  • Jim Hamilton

    This report talks as if convited felons should have some kind of job preference

  • Jim Hamilton


  • JKo

    You do realize that not everyone that served time is a murder or rapist or thief Jim? People make mistakes and they serve their time and should be allowed to return to society after they have served their time to be a contributing member of society. Some are people who were falsely convicted of crimes they didn’t even commit. Judge much?

    • Jim Hamilton

      Yeah well as we all know nothing is perfect and yeah sometimes sacrifice has to be made for the betterment of man kind. Forgive me for not mentioning meth makers poisoning people they are in there too arent they or the DUI that just can’t stop endangering inocent people with his drunk driving. At any rate with 97% reoffender rates yeah just keep them for life and the few that are wrongfully convicted its not in vain because others would see this and decide to not commit crimes or I’m not getting out of prison period. ZERO TOLLERANCE

    • Jim Hamilton

      BTW out of that 3% that didn’t reoffend 50% are reoffenders that just didn’t get cought

  • Curious George

    Mees want a jobby job!

  • Tom

    This is just another article and report that is meant to devide. People in general are having a very difficult time finding work. Ex-offenders always have a tougher time, even in good times.

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