On prison kiosks, inmates learn job search skills.

Author:Rarick, Ed
Position:CT FEATURE
 
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Formerly incarcerated people face numerous challenges to success in the "free world." First and foremost, they must quickly find a job in order to support themselves in the community. Ex-offenders who find and keep a living-wage job are far less likely to return to prison. The job often needs to be close to home and within their supervising court district. The job search process is further complicated by an offender's criminal record, lack of recent or relevant work history, lack of experience searching for a job, limited time to look for work due to reentry housing restrictions, and more. The sooner the ex-offender can effectively begin the job search process, the better.

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It may be challenging to reduce the overall time it takes for an ex-offender to successfully secure employment. However, the time and effort can be made more efficient by allowing offenders to begin their job search while incarcerated. Beginning the job search process in prison requires significant help from correctional facility education staff and may be limited to mock job fairs. Education staff members may help inmates search for jobs that are available in the release plan location and within their range of training and experience. Most federal and state institutions prohibit or restrict Internet use, rendering local newspapers a primary tool. The process can be time consuming for staff and does not allow the inmate to independently develop "soft skills" by conducting the job search on their own. Additionally, limitations on the use of electronic Internet-based search engines prevent the offender from adapting to resources available to those competing with them for employment.

A product is available from Jobview LLC that allows inmates to search a national database of jobs while still behind bars. The product, JOBview 2nd Chance, is an ATM-like kiosk that provides no direct access to the Internet and has no keyboard. Inmates browse hundreds of thousands of jobs from a touchscreen user interface through a secure wireless connection to the Jobview datacenter located in Minnesota. The user interface has been refined over several years and is simple enough that no inmate training is required. The jobs are updated nightly so inmates are always searching a database of current jobs.

JOBview 2nd Chance receives job databases from multiple sources and integrates them into a single database that can be searched by area and job type. The job database...

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