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PRESS RELEASE: Forum to Teach Employers Benefits of Hiring Former Inmates

Released September 22, 2016

Contact Lindsey Konrad , (360) 725-9125

Correctional Industries

TUMWATER – Employers looking to fill jobs may be able to find well-trained and skilled candidates from an unlikely place: prison.

Correctional Industries (CI), which trains and develops inmate's employable skills sets while incarcerated, is holding a free employer forum to educate the business community about the benefits of hiring formerly incarcerated individuals. The forum runs from 8:30 a.m. to 1 p.m. on Tuesday, Oct. 11 at the Washington State Fairgrounds Pavilion, 110 9th Ave. SW in Puyallup. Representatives from government agencies, private-sector companies and non-profit organizations are encouraged to attend.

A panel of business representatives, including former inmate turned CEO David Israel, will be present to talk about their experiences. Israel, who served a 46-month sentence in a Washington state correctional facility, is the founder and CEO of Pop! Gourmet Foods, a Tukwila, Wash.-based snack company that distributes its products to 18 countries worldwide. A total of 23 percent of the company's workforce are those who were formerly incarcerated. Former Seattle Seahawks wide receiver, Ricardo Lockette, will give the keynote address.

"The forum is a great opportunity for Washington state employers to come together to learn about the benefits of employing this hidden workforce, and how to engage in our community employment services," said Deanna Rodkey, community development specialist with CI. "We link skilled workers, who have participated in our voluntary work readiness program, with employers in the community. The benefits to businesses, the individuals releasing to society, their families and communities across the state are countless."

The forum will also have examples of finished products that were produced by inmates in CI programs to demonstrate some of the technical skills inmates can master in CI programs. Lunch and light refreshments will be provided. Parking and admission are free, though pre-registration is required.

Go to Discover Washington's Hidden Workforce to register for the event, or find out more about CI.

Correctional Industries is a division of the Washington State Department of Corrections that focuses on getting inmates employment ready before they release from prison through various workforce development programs. CI programs are offered at all state prisons and helps develop inmates' marketable job skills, instill and promote positive work ethic and reduce taxpayer cost of incarceration. While in prison, inmates can receive technical training in a variety of subjects, such as computer-aided design, furniture and metal manufacturing, textile production and Braille transcription.