Seven Lancaster County Human Services Workers Get OWDS Certification

Written by Scott J. Sheely on Saturday - November 26, 2011.

Lancaster:Seven members of the Offender Workforce Development Specialist (OWDS) team of the Lancaster County Re-Entry Management Organization completed their training in October and were recognized by the Lancaster County Commissioners at the meeting of the Board of County Commissioners on Wednesday, November 16, 2011.

OWDS is a national initiative from the National Institute of Corrections that promotes skill development and collaboration to improve employment outcomes, including job retention, for those re-entering the community from jails and prisons. The effort will result in lower recidivism, higher rates of employment, savings to taxpayers, and a reduction in the costs of incarceration.

Members of the Team underwent 180 hours of training to obtain this certification and they were among the first in Pennsylvania to be awarded the nationally-recognized OWDS credential. Team members include...

• Danielle Bednarczyk - Office of Vocational Rehabilitation (OVR)
• Joan Shindel - OVR
• Jameson Collins - OVR
• Melanie Snyder - Re-Entry Management Organization
• Kay Knight - Neighborhood Services
• Tony Haws - Lancaster County Prison
• Larry Washington - Lancaster County Adult Probation and Parole Services

This Lancaster team will now bring what they have learned back to Lancaster County by offering trainings for other Lancaster County professionals who work with offenders and ex-offenders. These trainings will cover essential skills and best practices to assist people coming out of prison to find employment.

Help Wanted - 65 Million Need Not Apply

Written by Scott J. Sheely on Sunday - May 08, 2011.

The Lookout, March 23, 2011:  In 2008, Johnny Magee, who is developmentally disabled, was laid off from his landscaping job in Livermore, California, thanks to government budget cuts. He applied for a new position as a garden center attendant at a nearby Lowe's Home Improvement store. Despite his prior experience, Magee wasn't hired. Why? A background check had turned up a 1999 misdemeanor conviction, stemming from an incident in which he unknowingly picked up a package for his uncle that contained drugs. Later that year, Magee's conviction was dismissed-but that was too late for him to get the job at Lowe's.

Sixty-five million Americans-or one in four adults-have a criminal record. But employers-including major companies like Bank of America, Omni Hotel, and Domino's Pizza-routinely post job ads on Craigslist that explicitly exclude such applicants, according to a new report conducted by the National Employment Law Center (NELP), a labor-affiliated advocacy group.

The practice appears in some cases to be against the law, and at a time of record long-term joblessness, advocates for the poor say it places yet another obstacle in front of people like Magee, who are working to get their life back on track. In addition, there's widespread agreement that helping those with criminal records to find stable employment is crucial for preventing recidivism and preventing future crime. Indeed, that's the reason that the government runs programs designed to make it easier for ex-offenders to find work.

Cities Incorporate Employment-Focused Strategies into Crime-Fighting Initiatives

Written by Scott J. Sheely on Wednesday - December 31, 2008.

New York, NY, December 15, 2008:  Despite a general nationwide downturn in reported crime since the early 1990s, police departments and local newspapers in some cities across the country reported in 2007 and 2008 that the per capita violent crime rate in their jurisdictions has begun to creep up; in some areas the rate has increased significantly. To reduce crime, local elected officials have unveiled new crime-fighting strategies that include employment initiatives targeting people with criminal records.

These include wage supplements for employers, support of job training efforts, and more focused re-entry management efforts.  For a link to the whole story, click here.