The Bucks County Correctional Facility recently hosted its first “Behind the Walls” job fair, which was attended by eleven employers, five support agencies and 141 inmates.
The inmates met with representatives from area employers, discussed career opportunities and submitted job applications, jump-starting the process of rebuilding their lives once out from behind bars.
“There are many benefits to employing previously incarcerated individuals after release,” said Billie Barnes, executive director of the county’s Workforce and Economic Development Department. “Businesses tap into the enormous potential of an often-overlooked talent pool of applicants eager to work.”
Department of Corrections officials view the event as a key part of making incarceration not just a matter of retribution, but one of rehabilitation.
“Equipping these returning citizens with the tools they need to succeed outside the correctional facility’s walls is crucial to our re-entry mission,” said interim director of corrections David Kratz. “We extend our sincere thanks to the employers and agencies who helped make this inaugural event a success and look forward to working with them in the months and years to come.”
The event was a joint effort between corrections administrators, Workforce and Economic Development and PA CareerLink Bucks County, a resource for the county’s job seekers.
CareerLink was among the support agencies ready to assist inmates at the job fair, a list that also included Bucks County Adult Probation and Parole, the Bucks County Human Services HUB, the Bucks County Opportunity Council and the Bucks County Public Defender’s Office.
Participating employers were: A.V. Weber; Amazon; Craft Pro Masonry; Double H. Plastics, Inc.; Effluent Retrieval; General Flange and Forge; J. Sharp’s Landscaping, Inc.; Jericho National Golf Club; Peddler’s Village; Simmons Feed Co.; and The Warrington.
“Employers across industries have increasingly reached out to the Department of Corrections for work release referrals to fill open positions in Bucks County,” said Barnes. “In response, my department collaborated with the DOC to organize this Behind the Walls event as part of our ongoing effort to connect qualified candidates to job opportunities and fulfill the needs of employers looking to mitigate labor shortages.”
Before the last group of inmates had entered the jail’s all-purpose room to mingle with potential future employers, correctional facility officials and their partners had already begun talks of planning the facility’s next job fair.