RICHMOND, Va. (WRIC) — People who leave prison often have trouble finding jobs.
That’s why a group of people, including ex-cons, community leaders and members of New Virginia Majority, gathered on VCU’s campus Tuesday to demand that Richmond’s largest employer provide more job opportunities and livable wages to formerly incarcerated people living in the city.
“I have been a certified nurse for over 20 years and I’m currently in school to further my education,” said Brianna Ross, a returning citizen and resident of Richmond’s East End “I have a gift to care for people when they need it the most, yet, I’m currently working with no health insurance or benefits.
“There is a shortage of registered nurses in Virginia and I can’t get hired. I have put in numerous applications for jobs that I’m more than qualified for, but I’m always turned down because of prior convictions from many years ago. I value myself, my community, and hard work. I’m not asking for a handout — I’m asking for an equal opportunity to a quality job.”
While the City of Richmond has an unemployment rate of 5 percent, a release from New Virginia Majority states that communities in the city’s Northside, East End and Southside — where many returning citizens reside — have unemployment rates higher than 13 percent.
“As a publicly funded institution and Richmond’s largest employer, community members are calling on VCU to use their influence to set a standard by directly hiring formerly incarcerated community members in Richmond,” the release stated.