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Job fair offers second chance for people with criminal history

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Columbia, S.C. (WACH) -- A job fair Wednesday extended a helping hand to those looking to get their lives back on track.

The Central Reentry Job Fair & Expo was held at Dutch Square Mall and offered career opportunities to those with a criminal background.

Several companies were represented, including SCDOT, Goodwill, Lexington Plumbing Institute and more.

Joe Brewer with the U.S. Attorney's Office of South Carolina says opportunities like this are important because those with a criminal past must have a way to effectively readjust to society.

"Community safety isn't a point of intervention moment; it isn't an arrest or a sentence," said Brewer. "The idea that these people would be able to have steady jobs, maybe reacquire education and pass those things on to their children, their family members...has an impact that we can't even really calculate or put a value on."

According to Brewer, 70 percent of people released from jail end up committing a crime within five years after being released.

Charles Kearse II with Verizon Wireless says it is important to the companies there to not overlook those who may have proficiency in their fields of expertise because of mistakes made in their respective pasts.

"This is the beginning of the mining process and we're always looking for that speck of gold, that diamond," said Kearse. "And sometimes, you have to wipe it off and rub it off a bit. Even though they may be reentering the career, reentering the work force, they may believe in the same things we do. That's what we look for: integrity, ownership, performance excellence...things that are gonna drive our culture at Verizon. So, we like to pull them in and watch them grow from there."

Those who may have missed this event have the opportunity to attend two more, including one in Charleston May 9th and Florence September 27th.

Visit SCWORKS.org for more information.

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