News The Power of Giving

REDF Helps Ex-Cons Re-enter the Workforce

For formerly incarcerated Americans, returning to “normal” life outside of prison can be a tremendously difficult experience. Ex-cons need time to adjust back into their personal lives, not to mention combat the judgment that comes from potential employers when trying to re-enter the workforce.

Reports Trymaine Lee for The Huffington Post, “Of the 7 million Americans (1 in 33) who were incarcerated, on probation or parole in 2010, more than 4 in 10 can be expected to return to prison within three years, according to a 2011 study by the Pew Charitable Trust’s Center on the States.” These upsetting figures have not improved in the last few years either; an alarming number of ex-cons face recidivism when returning home to dim prospects.

With this in mind, it is vital that organizations like the Roberts Enterprise Development Fund (REDF) exist to support those who are having difficulty finding work. Founded in 1997 by George R. Roberts, REDF “proposes an alternative to band-aid solutions that fail to address the intractable problem of persistent joblessness.” Joblessness – especially for those who have recently been released from the prison system, can lead to depression, poverty, low self-esteem, and perhaps most alarming, the risk of returning back to prison. As Roberts himself as has said, “If you don’t have a job, you don’t have hope. If you don’t have hope, what do you really have?”

For ex-convicts who want to move on with their lives, holding onto the mere hope of finding employment as a means to re-entering life outside of prison is sometimes all they have. REDF has a significant number of success stories to be proud of. The organization has reportedly helped an astounding 9,500 people find employment in the state of California, including ex-convict Patrick Carroll, who has turned his life around with the help of REDF.

“Giving a man or woman a job makes all the difference in the world to that person,” says Carroll, who calls REDF his “path to employment.”

Indeed, REDF helped give Carroll the second chance that he deserved after being released from prison, and does so for hundreds of others just like him every year. To learn more about how REDF empower people to find employment and changes lives, be sure to check out our profile of the organization.