Job fair for former felons
Jesús Peña had a very tough time looking for a job. No one would hire him. However, many people like Peña, who were convicted of a felony, eventually found a job.
For those convicted of a felony it can be very challenging to get a job once they're out of jail. But some employers who hire them say they're actually their best employees. It ends up being a win-win for both the employee and the employer.
Peña now works at a septic tank collection business in Brownsville. He says it's a dirty job, but the grimes of the job is way better than his past.
“It’s difficult [getting a job] after leaving a place like jail,” Peña said.
Peña was convicted of a crime. Although he didn't want to talk about it in detail, he says that he spent 27 months in jail.
“We have never had a problem with [felons],” said Aaron Hernández, owner of the septic cleaning business Peña works at.
Hernández says that they are the most noble and the hardest working employees. Peña says he applied to around 30 different employers and no one would hire him, but Hernández did.
“You think that because they are criminals, they’re going to steal, something bad is going to happen, they’re going to misbehave – but no, that’s not the fact,” Hernández said.
Hernández says that they're usually very grateful for getting the job.
Workforce Solutions Cameron County works with local probation offices and half-way houses in order to hire felons who came out of jail.
"You know these people have job skills, they're eager,” said Rey Tejada from Workforce Solutions Cameron County. “We just need to find employers that are willing to give them that opportunity."
Businesses that hire felons win as well, the Texas Workforce Commission gives businesses a tax credit for hiring felons based on employee retention.
“I’ve learned not to do things without thinking first,” Peña said. He says he’s not going back to jail because it is not pretty experience.
For more information, Workforce Solutions Cameron County can be reached at (956) 546-3141.