Bridgeport launching program to help ex-inmates find work

The City of Bridgeport is launching a new initiative to help people find work after they serve time in prison.

Mayor Joe Ganim says the issue is close to his heart. He spent seven years in prison before he was re-elected in what many have called a major comeback story.

Ganim says he now wants to extend opportunities to others who are coming out of the corrections system. He says that if voters could give him a second chance after his conviction for corruption, other people deserve the same thing.

The mayor says more than 1,000 people a year leave prison and return to Bridgeport, and they often face trouble finding employment.

The city's Second Chance Initiative aims to encourage similar success stories for ex-convicts by urging businesses to hire more than 1,100 released inmates a year.

Wade's Dairy in Bridgeport is a family operated business. Owner Doug Wade says that family includes three ex-offenders who served prison sentences. To encourage companies like Wade's, the city hopes to pay ex-offenders' salaries for the first few months. The money would come from $8 million in federal grants Bridgeport applied for.

Several businesses, including Wade's, signed a pledge Friday to hire more released offenders.

The initiative comes a week after Gov. Dannel Malloy signed a law banning employers from asking prospective employees about their criminal history until they actually sit down for an interview.

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