Finding employment and housing as a former offender in Oregon is challenging, especially since most employers and property owners rely heavily on background checks to make their decisions. Some will rule you out the moment they discover you have a criminal record. Others are more lenient, but may still require a detailed explanation of the crime you committed, the length of your sentence and where you served your time. Fortunately, there are numerous resources available to ex-inmates in Oregon that improve your chances of making a successful transition from prison to regular life.
The SE Works One-Stop Career Center, a division of the Worksource Oregon program, offers multiple resources to people who have spent time in prison. The following programs are among the most popular:
The objective of the Prisoner Re-Entry Employment Program is to assist former prisoners become self-sufficient by finding long-term employment. A vocational counselor learns the client’s strengths and current job skills and then forms an employment plan to accommodate them. In addition to placement support, the program also provides participants with tips on applying and interviewing for a job as well as strategies to retain it. Clients of this program earn an average wage of $12.75 per hour and re-offend at a rate of just 7 percent.
Worksource Oregon puts on a workshop 364 days a year for people who disclose past involvement with the state’s criminal justice system. Participants may use computers to look up job postings, send resumes and track job lead on an ongoing basis. It also gives people the chance to network with others who are dealing with similar circumstances. New participants are screened to identify where they may need additional technical skills to take advantage of the resources available.
This program works with individuals prior to and after their release from prison. It is limited to 180 participants. If you are accepted into the program while in prison, you receive individualized career counseling, career mapping and short-term training that provides you with some of the credentials you need to land a job in your chosen field. After your release, you are eligible to receive long-term and on-the-job training to provide you with additional experience.
Former prisoners in this program receive case management services to help them find employment. It goes beyond providing one-on-one mentoring, on-the-job training and teaching job-seeking skills by addressing difficult barriers for long-term prisoners. First, program counselors offer cognitive behavioral therapy to help participants overcome the criminal mindset. Secondly, this program offers drug and alcohol treatment groups to those who are motivated to overcome their addictions. The average participant earns $10.25 per hour after completing this program. Its current success rate is just over 70 percent.
This program is exclusively for people identified as high-risk drug or property crime offenders. Participants are referred by their probations officers from Washington County Community Corrections. The goal of the program is to successfully address addictions to drugs or alcohol, lack of support for a lifestyle change and other barriers to employment. Program participants receive one-on-one employment coaching services, subsidized training and are eligible to attend special workshops. People who qualify for the Re-Connect Program may participate in other Worksource Oregon programs at the same time.
If you are interested in any of these programs, >contact Worksource Oregon and inquire about its Resources for Ex-Offenders programs.
If you prefer not to use an ex-offender program to find employment, check this list for companies that may be open to hiring people who have served time in prison.
Many prisoners are not ready to live completely independently upon release, especially those who have been in prison for several years. As a resident of a halfway house, you start out with the structure and supervision that you are accustomed to and gradually work towards complete independence. Group homes for ex-inmates provide you with access to counseling and resources that you would not have living on your own. You should contact the halfway house closest to where you served your time to request more information. The current locations in Oregon include:
You may also wish to contact an organization such as the NW Pilot Project or Housing Connections for assistance with locating independent living options.
In 2011, the Partnership for Safety and Justice published an extensive resource guide for ex-offenders and others in Oregon in need of social services. Resources are listed by county and include such things as family counseling, substance abuse counseling, health and dental clinics, contact information for county human service departments, educational resources, parole information and more. You just need to keep in mind that some programs may no longer be available due to the age of the guide. Your county human services center should have access to the most recent resource list available.
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