Who is the Colorado Criminal Justice Reform Coalition?

Our mission is to reverse the trend of mass incarceration in Colorado. We are a coalition of nearly 7,000 individual members and over 100 faith and community organizations who have united to stop perpetual prison expansion in Colorado through policy and sentence reform.

Our chief areas of interest include drug policy reform, women in prison, racial injustice, the impact of incarceration on children and families, the problems associated with re-entry and stopping the practice of using private prisons in our state.

If you would like to be involved please go to our website and become a member.

Monday, January 12, 2009

Bo Matthews Center Helps With Employment

9 News

DENVER - Christmas Day was a very happy one for David Phares. It was not because of gifts he received, but because the 27-year-old had gotten out of prison just one day before. Three weeks later, Phares was hoping for one more present: a new job.

"I've applied for a lot of jobs," he said.

Phares and other ex-felons got some help with their job hunts on Monday. The Bo Matthews Center for Excellence hosted an event that matched up job-seekers with businesses that can provide advice and apprenticeships, despite their criminal backgrounds.

"What their past was, what they did before, that's not going to matter," said Denver Joint Electrical Apprenticeship Training Committee (DJEATC) Training Coordinator Dan Hendricks. "If they want to work, we've got a place for them."

DJEATC provides multi-year training programs for a fee, teaching people how to become electricians.

Several other companies also attend the event. Forty-four-year-old Jerry Harris, convicted of drug possession, was one of the first job-seekers to arrive.

"It shows there are a lot of companies that do care and they don't mind my background," she said. "I'm not who I used to be."

Bo Matthews Center for Excellence Project Manager Innael Miranda says the tough job market means it's harder than ever for ex-felons to compete with so many qualified applicants.

"We have people who were laid off, who were managers, who have been with companies for long periods of time and are looking for work. These are people our clients have to compete with," he said.

The stiffened competition is one reason why Miranda stresses the importance of learning a specific skill or trade.

"It's almost mandatory that they have training and certification in order to find a job," he said.

Miranda's organization also serves homeless and low-income residents. He says the nonprofit will soon open its own business to provide clients with jobs.


Anonymous said...

I have heard a lot of good things about this program. I hope that those that have been through the program can give some feedback on it.

Anonymous said...

Why are inmates all made homeless and pushed into the Denver area,(big city, expensive , full of crime) to find a job, when paroled??? Most have familys that care.
I personaly think the DOC needs to change there apprach to one of genuine re-habilitation, instead of the idea they are hired to punish the inmates. djw

Anonymous said...