Job fair in west Louisville welcomes ex-offenders in an effort to curb rising violence

LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WDRB) -- Locked up on a four-year stint for robbery and burglary, Marquis Barrow desperately wants to turn his life around, starting with a job.

But after a year and a half of beating the streets, he was starting to lose hope.

"I got denied so many times," Bolden said.

The 24-year-old met with recruiters at the Louisville Urban League on Thursday at a special resource fair to put dozens down on their luck to work.

A dozen or so employers were on hand to fill more than a hundred jobs. But unlike other job fair, everyone was welcome, especially ex-offenders.

"They need to see hope," said Johnetta Roberts, the Director of Workforce Development with the Louisville Urban League. "They need to be connected. They need to know the next step. They need to know that they have options."

Jerald Muhammad with Brothers Helping Brothers is on the front lines, and he warns that frustration often leads to crime, like Tuesday's fatal shooting at 41st Street and Broadway.

"We have a problem when people are riding around with pistols in their pocket at 2 p.m.," Muhammad said. "That's a person with no hope."

So in addition, organizers are also making sure job seekers get the training they need -- not just for a job, but a career.

"If you're unskilled, then you're looking at an $8 or $9 an hour job," Muhammad said. "But if you get a skill, which you can get through these programs, then you can start working at $14, $15, $18 an hour with full benefits."

More than putting people back to work, Thursday's fair was meant to restore hope, which organizers maintain will curb the violence.

"If there's one less person on drugs, that's one less person driving down the road drugged out of their mind," Muhammad said. "That's one less person that's going to break in your house and rob you."

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