We believe in second chances. It is both refreshing and inspiring to see organizations committed to delivering second chances to people who are trying to change their lives.
The Seattle Times highlights a job fair that was held this week in Seattle, aimed at helping people who were formerly incarcerated find employment. MOD Pizza was among the dozen employers represented, as well as Uber, FareStart, and Tom Douglas Restaurants.
The article quotes one woman who was uneasy about her future when she was released from prison. She wasn’t sure if she would be employable and feared falling back into a life of drugs and crime. This is a fear of many people being released from prison who are re-entering society with a criminal record and a big gap in their resume. Companies like those represented at the job fair are essential to provide hope, opportunity, and second chances for people who are trying to make life changes. The woman in the Seattle Times article was quoted as saying her career opportunity at MOD Pizza “absolutely saved my life.”
This job fair was supported by the City of Seattle and Uber and hosted by Dave’s Killer Bread Foundation, an organization committed to expanding employment opportunities for people with criminal backgrounds. The job fair was part of a two-day event and included a gathering of business and non-profit leaders interested in providing “second chance employment”. The news article describes the background and origin of Dave’s Killer Bread Foundation, started by David Dahl. Dahl was welcomed back to his family bakery business (Dave’s Killer Bread) after serving 15 years in prison for drug, assault, and robbery charges. One third of the employees with Dave’s Killer Bread have a criminal background.
Dave’s Killer Bread Foundation seeks to educate about second chance employment and encourage employers to be part of the solution. Successful reentry of a person being released from prison relies on businesses being open to employing them.
There is a goal of reducing recidivism in Washington State. Currently about 1/3 of the number of people released from prison will return within three years, according to the Seattle Times article. However, reentry plans are lacking essential components and people are not being set up for success.
Real job opportunities, such as those presented at this job fair, could be a missing piece of the puzzle. Opening these doors for formerly incarcerated people could provide hope and opportunity for many, and can literally save lives.