New workforce initiative helps ex-convicts get jobs

New YorkCommunity
Collaborator: Rahkiya "Rocky" Brown
Published: 05/13/2021, 6:06 PM
Edited: 05/14/2021, 6:15 PM

(BINGHAMTON, N.Y.) It is no secret that the unemployment and underemployment rates in the Broome County area are high. Now the Broome County Urban League and the New York State Department of Labor are coming together to drive those numbers down, by partnering on a platform that will offer job training and apprenticeship opportunities. 

These opportunities will be available in health care, hospitality, manufacturing, customer service, retail, technology, plumbing, heating, and carpentry. Participants will leave the training with the necessary skills to gain and retain employment. However, what makes this new initiative so special is that the League will also be working with people in the community who have a criminal record. 

The program will include local attorneys to assist individuals with past infractions, to have their record sealed or expunged all together. 

Broome County Urban League CEO Jen Lesko said it is simply unfair for one’s criminal record to negatively impact them for the rest of their lives. 

“The consequences of a criminal record can lead to the denial of an individual's right to civic participation. One’s life, subsequent to an arrest, is permanently altered, which is unfair,“ Lesko said. “Something that someone did when they were 18,19 or 20 should not impact them when they are 40, especially if they have paid their debt to society. We have an untapped talent pool in this community and this program will give those individuals the opportunity to become gainfully employed, support themselves and their families and contribute our community.”

Damien Cornwell, the director of operations for the Urban League, said he also feels that once someone has paid their debt to society, that should be the end of it.

“Some folks can’t be hired, can’t pursue different career paths based on past convictions,” Cornwall said. “This program eliminates that problem. Paying your debt to society should provide you the right to start over. The goal here is to make good on that ideal.” 

Those who wish to participate in this progressive program can call the Broome County Urban League at 607-723-7303 and schedule their meeting with an attorney.

Meetings will take place Thursday, June 3rd starting at 9:15am and will continue throughout the day.  


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