Resources for felons in a tough job market - NBC Right Now/KNDO/KNDU Tri-Cities, Yakima, WA |

Resources for felons in a tough job market

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YAKIMA, Wash- It's no secret that's it's a tough job market.  But for people with criminal records, finding a job can be even more difficult, although having steady employment is key to keeping felons from re-offending.

Every Monday at Yakima's community justice center, you can find felons getting ready to join the work force.

But interview skills can only help if you get your foot in the door.  Offenders worry that doors slam in their faces as soon as they check yes to being convicted of a felony.

"Automatically they're going to be looking at it and they're going to be like ‘no'" worries, Leaha Scribner.

 Scribner is Department of Corrections work release for paper crimes like identity theft. In April she'll be free to join the workforce.  Leaha knows some industries will be off limits because of her background but doesn't know what areas she should train in so she doesn't waste her time.

"Just to have a list of open industries for us to work at", she says.

WorkSource helps felons find some of those industries.  Like any other resident, offenders can get a job search plan tailored specially for their circumstances.  But WorkSource warns offenders to be realistic.

"Sometimes you have to restart your career when you have a felony, you go for the beginner entry level job and in some cases any job", says Sondra Pieti, administrator for WorkSource Yakima.

But entry level doesn't have to mean unskilled.  Perry Technical Institute sees many students with felony backgrounds... Nevertheless, they help those offenders find specialized work after graduation.

"There's starting to be a build up for a large demand in the skilled trades that we trained for so some employers are becoming a little more lenient with those policies", says Jennifer Arnett, Career Center Advisor for Perry Technical Institute.

Leaha and other offenders hope that trend continues.

"Give us a chance, be a little more open minded because we do change", says Scribner.