BATON ROUGE — Ex-offenders face many challenges after their release from prison. Finding a job can be one of the toughest.
Nearly 2,000 ex-offenders have been referred to employment opportunities through a process called J-CORE.
J-CORE (Judicial-Core Opportunity Referral to Employment) was initiated in July 2007 by the Louisiana Department of Labor, in collaboration with its local partners in the Workforce Investment Areas, the Louisiana Department of Corrections and the Office of Youth Development. Its purpose is to provide career counseling and job placement services to ex-offenders, to help them secure employment as soon as possible after release.
The application process can begin while the individual is still incarcerated or after release. The ex-offender will be referred by a probation or parole office to a Department of Labor Business and Career Solutions Center where a case manager will explore individual skills, abilities and work preferences and initiate a job search.
The center informs the ex-offender’s parole officer, supervisor or case manager that the ex-offender is active in the system and which services are being provided.
Businesses that hire ex-offenders have opportunities for special incentives, such as federal bonding, a federal tax credit through the Work Opportunity Tax Credit and the Incumbent Worker Training Program.
“J-CORE provides our business community with an underused, work-ready supply of labor,” said Louisiana Department of Labor Secretary Tim Barfield. “In order to fill the nearly 100,000 job openings in our state we must open our eyes to all options, and businesses that are having trouble filling their vacancies should explore this program.”
According to Whalen Gibbs, assistant secretary of the Louisiana Department of Public Safety and Corrections, about 15,000 inmates are released to Louisiana communities each year.
“Through the J-CORE partnership, ex-offenders have been placed in jobs and training programs, which improves the likelihood of successful re-entry,” he said. “Meaningful and gainful employment that pays a livable wage is a key component in curtailing the revolving door of recidivism.”
For more information about J-CORE, contact Girard Melancon, special assistant for the Office of Workforce Development with the Louisiana Department of Labor at 225-219-9638, or go to www.LAWORKS.net for a listing of all Business and Career Solutions Centers.
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