Mt. Pleasant, Iowa Battling Recidivism Through Job Fairs

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Mount Pleasant, IA-  According to the statistics, 7 in 10 prison inmates will wind up either dead or on their way back to jail within 5 years of being released. Recidivism is one of the largest specters that ex-convicts will find hovering over their heads. The prospect of landing a job opportunity upon release can ease the worry and stress associated with reintegration back into society.

“I’ve been locked up for going on ten years. I have a GED and not a lot of real world job experience. Who is going to want to hire me?”  That was the sentiment of an inmate at the Mount Pleasant Correctional Facility, who wished to remain anonymous. He is scheduled for release next month.

It is precisely that sentiment that makes hiring events such as the job fair like the one held last Thursday at the MPCF so important. Working with re-entry advisor Terry Zmolek, inmates were able to put together resumes and implement interview skills and display them for 20 potential employers in the prison’s gymnasium.

“There are a lot of great guys that I work with, guys that have the skills, have the drive, now they just need the opportunity to get a foot in the door,” said Zmolek, who is employed by both the Iowa Department of Corrections and Iowa Works. Zmolek also noted that in addition to giving employers a chance to recruit an often overlooked pool of employees, the job fair also helps inmates to work past their self doubts and help them see that there is a light at the end of the tunnel, that there is a future beyond their past. “This is just invaluable.”