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Interviews with news makers and discussion of topics important to Southwest Michigan. Subscribe to the podcast through Apple itunes and Google. Segments of interview are heard in WestSouthwest Brief during Morning Edition and All Things Considered

WSW: Opening Doors For Employment After Prison

Andrew Jameson, Wikimedia Commons

Battle Creek Enquirer Reporter Dillon Davis says there’s no clear path from prison release to finding employment. He says it happens on a case by case basis.

Davis decided to write about felons seeking employment after he saw Samuel Hunter speak in October of last year. Hunter told his story of being involved with gangs, and burned down a house which killed two people. Hunter now works at Portage-based Bowers Manufacturing.

But it’s not easy to find a job after being released from prison. Dillon says a felony record tends to be “disqualifying” when looking for work.

Credit Courtesy Photo
Battle Creek Enquirer Reporter Dillon Davis

One idea to open the door slightly for felons, now out of prison and looking for work, is to “ban the box” and not ask on the initial job application if someone has been convicted of a crime. Davis says that delays when an employer knows about the conviction. The criminal record still becomes known before a job is offered. Davis says researchers he talked to say ban the box helps, but employers will still notice a gap in employment history or a lack of references.

Davis’ story begins and ends with Samuel Hunter discussing his mother who visited him in prison just before Valentine’s day in 1995, then died a few days later. Davis says that stuck with him in part because he lost his mother in 2015. The tenants of Samuel’s Muslim religion require burial within 24 hours so he wasn’t able to get out in time for her funeral. But the memory of her stays with him.

Image from Wikimedia Commons

Gordon Evans became WMUK's Content Director in 2019 after more than 20 years as an anchor, host and reporter. A 1990 graduate of Michigan State, he began work at WMUK in 1996.
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