By Michele Kane, Public Information Officer
California Prison Industry Authority
More than 100 employers heard about the benefits of hiring trained former offenders at the 2014 Los Angeles Employer Forum hosted by the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation (CDCR), the California Prison Industry Authority (CALPIA) and Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department.
Business owners attended the forum which was held at the Los Angeles Trade-Technical College (LATTC) who also partnered in the event, along with The City of Los Angeles, the Los Angeles Economic and Workforce Development Department and the California Workforce Investment Board.
“This is the second employer forum we’ve hosted this year and it’s a win-win for employers and the general public,” said Charles Pattillo, General Manager of CALPIA. “It’s important for business owners to hear about the benefits of hiring former offenders. Not only do they receive tax credits and insurance savings, but they help taxpayers save money and keep communities safer by being part of the recidivism reduction solution.”
LATTC President Larry Frank applauded the 114 employers who attended and said his college sometimes is the stepping stone for former offenders who need to get a job.
“We have former offenders who are doing their part here. They are going to college getting degrees and certificates in our construction, transportation, culinary arts and design media art programs,” said Frank. “We are deeply committed with all of our community partners to make this work.”
Business owners also discovered how to reduce their recruitment and training costs through work opportunity tax credits and fidelity bonding options.
Former U.S. Secretary of Labor Hilda Solis was the keynote speaker and encouraged business owners to provide those second chances for this skilled workforce.
“It is important to give and translate job skills while we have people detained. People need to know they have opportunities,” said Secretary Solis. “If they are given opportunities, they will make better choices.”
Also speaking at the event was Joe Herrera, Vice President of Human Resources of the Staples Center, Nokia Theatre and LA Live. He provided positive stories of hiring former offenders.
Hollywood producer Scott Budnick, also the founder of The Anti-Recidivism Coalition and an appointee to the Board of State and Community Corrections and to the Board of Governors of the California Community Colleges, was honored for helping and placing former offenders in the workforce.
Along with Budnick, eight employers were recognized for hiring former offenders with a Community Partnership Award and several community-based organizations were also honored.
Former CDCR offender Sam Lewis talked about his life while incarcerated and how he took part in CALPIA programs and made a drastic change for the better. He is now a supervisor for the organization, Friends Outside in Los Angeles County.
“Without a second chance I wouldn’t be standing before you today,” said Lewis. “January 6th of this year I closed on my first house, that’s because of community-based organizations, CALPIA and CDCR.”
Lewis went onto encourage employers to take that risk and offer trained CDCR former offenders the opportunity to work.
“You are getting a workforce that is loyal because they are getting that second chance,” he said.
CALPIA is a self-funded government organization annually training over 8,000 offenders in service, manufacturing and agricultural industries within CDCR institutions. CALPIA does not receive an appropriation from California’s Budget Act.