In Illinois, twenty-five-thousand men and women are released from state prisons each year. Ideally, that means twenty-five-thousand people entering the job market. Illinois already has higher-than-average unemployment, and a criminal record can make it even harder to find work. That's why the Illinois Department of Corrections is trying to lend a hand to ex-offenders through a series of specialized events. Illinois Public Radio's Hannah Meisel attended one Tuesday in Springfield.
Volunteers shepherd 300 ex-offenders around to dozens of booths at a building on the Illinois State Fairgrounds, all of which are here to help them get to their ultimate goal: employment. This event is known as the "Summit of Hope," one of eight such events around the state planned for this year.