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"Prisons To Prosperity" Seminar Outlines Tips For A Second Chance

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An event being held this weekend in the Bronx aims to help former inmates avoid unemployment and reduce their chances of going back to prison. NY1's Dean Meminger filed the following report.

You do the crime, you do the time. But after the time is served, quite often it is nearly impossible to find a job. So some advocates are saying people have to learn how to flip the skills they've picked up while breaking the law.

"When you think about the drug dealers, they are entrepreneurs just on the wrong side of the street. They know there market, they know how much they are gong to make, they know their profit, they know their loss statement," said Reverend Que English of The Bronx Clergy Roundtable.

English says those skills can be put to positive use. The Bronx Clergy Roundtable and the Think Outside The Cell Foundation are hosting what's called a Prisons to Prosperity Seminar and Job Fair on Saturday at Lehman College in the Bronx. The main focus is encouraging people with criminal records to think about becoming entrepreneurs.

"It expands opportunities and possibilities. Because you don't have to deal with the middle man telling you, we will not hire you, we will not give you an opportunity," said Sheila Rule of the Think Outside The Cell Foundation.

Michael Rico Guzman served time, but now works with the clergy group and is a presenter at Saturday's seminar.

"My body has been able to get outside of those walls, and those cells and the bars. I can now say, you know what, I wanted to help other people and I now have been given a chance to to do this," Guzman said.

James Uhuru White served time for robbery. He's looking for a second chance but It's been difficult landing jobs.

Dean Meminger: Do you check off on the application, that you have been convicted?

Uhuru: Yes, I have to. So this way if they check, they can see I am not lying. I am being honest. I am trying to get back into society.

Sheila Rule says it's hard for ex-convicts to find a second chance, even after proving themselves.

"He was named temp employee of the year he was doing so well. Temp employee of the year. They found out he had been incarcerated, they fired him," Rule said.

It's a reality for many who have served their time and continue to be judged for a past they've left behind.

Prisons to Prosperity Seminar

Saturday, October 26 at 9 a.m.
Lehman College - Music Hall
250 Bedford Park West, Bronx, NY
Call 718-231-1033 or visit thinkoutsidethecell.org.

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