FLATWOODS, W.Va. — West Virginians looking for a second chance showed up in Flatwoods Tuesday afternoon for the first of the state Department of Education’s Second Chance Job Fairs.
Those in attendance were able to speak with potential employers, learn about job programs for ex-offenders and sit in on an expungement clinic explaining the state’s new Second Chance Act.
Jacob Green with the state Department of Education’s Diversion and Transition Programs said the goal is to get as many ex-offenders as possible back in the workforce.
“We want them back paying taxes instead of draining taxes,” Green said during an appearance Tuesday on MetroNews “Talkline.”
Jacob Green of the @WVeducation Diversion and Transition Program talks with @HoppyKercheval about the Second Chance job fair being held today. WATCH: https://t.co/wkudfIAoe1 pic.twitter.com/XtXK3KUQby
— MetroNews (@WVMetroNews) October 1, 2019
The Second Chance Act was came as a result of the thousands of drug arrests in West Virginia in recently years, many of them misdemeanor or non-violent felonies. The act sets up a process for those who have been convicted to have their records expunged.
Green said there’s also a great need to get more people in the workforce now in West Virginia. He said they had an impressive list of employers at Tuesday’s fair.
“We’ve got employers here today who we’ve identified and worked with, who are friendly to hiring ex-offenders,” he said.
Statistics show that ex-offenders who get jobs are less likely to be repeat offenders.
“We know that if we can get them a job their recidivism rates go down exponentially, almost by a-third and if they can get a good wage paying job they can also increase their education which further lowers recidivism,” Green said.
Representatives of state agencies were among the employers in attendance Tuesday along with the U.S. Census, Snowshoe and a telemarketing firm.
The state offers several incentives to employers including the Work Opportunity Tax Credit along with a bonding program through WorkForce West Virginia that provides protection for employers.
Green said there will be additional second chance job fairs.
“Our office is committed this this….because we know the need is there,” he said.
There were approximately 100 people at Tuesday’s fair.