A job after prison: Making the case for an under-used workforce

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The Star Tribune (Minneapolis) on September 4, 2017 by Neal St. Anthony

Davis Powell works at Pomp’s Tire Service in Savage where he inspects and repairs tires. “Overall, it’s a good job with good benefits,” said Powell, 33, a two-year employee.

Powell has gone from being a penniless inmate in a Minnesota state prison four years ago to a $14-an-hour employee, plus benefits and ample overtime, a shared apartment, a car and a future.

Powell also represents an untapped national workforce of millions of formerly incarcerated people.

“My crime came out of pride and low self-esteem,” said Powell, who was released months early in 2013 for good behavior following a robbery conviction. “I’m not going back to prison.”

Powell, while on probation, went through personal-empowerment and job-skills training provided by Twin Cities Rise, the 25-year nonprofit that helps unemployed and underemployed folks boost their technical and personal skills and advance in careers through jobs that range from office work to mechanics and bus drivers. While enrolled at Rise in north Minneapolis, Powell also worked a temp job that required a three-bus commute.