“When you look at how many people returning from Illinois correctional centers, the majority are returning to the West Side,” said Cook County Commissioner Richard Boykin (1st) during a recent interview.
“There’s a strong correlation between crime, unemployment and poverty,” he said.
On Friday, Oct. 2, from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m., Boykin will be hosting his first annual Second Chance Resource Fair. The event will take place at Another Chance Assembly Church, 5138 W. Division.
The fair will be similar to other events that have focused on preparing convicted felons, the unemployed and people with criminal records for career opportunities and fresh starts — such as Dorothy Brown’s annual Expungement Summit, which Boykin said he has attended in the past.
“This is a great opportunity for those seeking jobs to get another chance,” Boykin said of Friday’s fair, adding that participants will be provided employment opportunities, housing opportunities, the opportunity to get their state ID’s and licenses, and resume workshops.
“This is important to me on a policy and a personal level. I know so many people who have been touched by violence and incarcerated,” Boykin said, noting the stark increase in incarceration levels among low-income African Americans over the last three decades.
“In the 1980s, there were around 300,000 people incarcerated. In 2003, there were around 1.4 million locked up,” Boykin said.
Keiana Barrett, Boykin’s communications director, said the result of such massive incarceration levels has been a depletion of the talent pool in many communities like Austin.
“The pool of talent is diminished,” she said. “We want to make sure we have marketable people able to align themselves with career opportunities.
Among potential employers and/or community organizations that will be present: Inspiration Kitchen, City Colleges of Chicago, Habilitative Systems Inc. Felony Franks, DCFS, Oak Street Health, Department of Corrections, Larry’s Barber College, Breakthrough Ministries, Windy City Harvest, Maywood Workforce Net, Safer Foundation, Chicago Cook Workforce Partnership, St. Leonard Ministries, PLCCA, Illinois Treasurers Office, WestSide Health Authority, Erskine Reeves Barber Academy, Christy Webber Landscapes, CTA, Uncle Remus, McArthurs Rest & Greater West Town
“This is about giving people real, tangible hope,” Boykin said. “Everybody deserves a chance to redeem themselves.”