Former inmates looking for jobs frustrated by failing Alameda Co. initiative

- An Alameda County Initiative to hire former jail or prison inmates has fallen far short of its mission.
 
The goal of the "Re-entry Hiring Initiative" is to provide 1,400 jobs with Alameda County. But a year later, only five people have gotten full-time jobs.
         
That has former inmates who are now looking for work, angry and frustrated.
One man, Marquez Trent, who served seven months in Santa Rita jail for armed robbery, says he has been unable to find a job since his release last year.
         
He says he's sure he knows the reason why.
         
"They see my robbery. They think he is going to steal something. He’s not going to work. It’s hard to find a job," says Trent.

Trent was among dozens of formerly incarcerated people and supporters protesting out of frustration in front of the Alameda County Administration Building.

They say the small handful of hires is not nearly enough.
        
"Five jobs and a sixth temporary; It is just not enough. We know they can hire more people," said Prince White who heads the non-profit organization Urban Peace.

"We are all disappointed we don't have more jobs," says Alameda County Supervisor Keith Carson, the author of the initiative. 

"Working with the government is slow. We have to go through civil service issues we have to go through department issues," he added.
          
"They could have been trying to get more people hired. They could have been helping people get past the civil service test. Those are not substantial reasons why they haven't gotten more people hired," countered White.
        
The supervisors chose 1,400 jobs because that is the approximate number of inmates released into Alameda County a year ago.

County officials say the problem is not that many entry level jobs opened up with the county. But that they are working to bring in employers from the private sector to help in the effort.

"Now that we have an infrastructure in place coalescing around the private sector I think we will be able to hire more," said Carson.
       
The county says there were a lot of growing pains.
        
But officials are confident the number of hires will be higher a year from now.

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