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Law enforcement officials encourage Detroit employers to hire ex-convicts

Prison bars
flickr user Thomas Hawk

Law enforcement officials gathered in Detroit Wednesday to encourage area employers to hire more former prisoners.

Studies show that of the 13,000 prisoners released in Michigan each year, one third will become re-offenders.

U.S. Attorney Barbara McQuade says jobs help ex-offenders beat those odds.

"The best way to prevent them from finding illegal ways to make money is to give them a job where they can be a productive member of society [and] contribute to our tax base," she said.

One of the obstacles standing in felons' way is the stigma that comes along with hiring them.

However, McQuade says other Michigan employers, such as Butterball Farms in Grand Rapids, have had great success with hiring former inmates.

"[Employers] find that returning citizens are grateful for a job and know that it might be their last opportunity," McQuade said. "They actually become some of the most motivated and successful employees in their workplace."

McQuade says employers who hire former inmates are eligible for tax credits and bond protection.

The U.S. Attorney's Office plans to hold a job fair for felons in the fall.

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