Working with a local reentry organization, Labyrinth Outreach Services to Women, the purpose of this study was to gather information about opportunities and barriers related to two aspects of their program: employment services and establishment of a microbusiness. Information was obtained through a 22-item questionnaire given to a sample of local businesses, key informant interviews, and secondary data analysis. Thirty-nine businesses in the Bloomington-Normal area responded to the questionnaire via on-line and paper survey methods, nine face-to-face interviews were conducted, along with three case studies of similar reentry microbusiness programs and a review of current literature. Stigmas of formerly incarcerated women, such as being unmotivated, irresponsible, disobedient, and violent were found to be major barriers to hiring. Significant facilitators identified for increased consideration for employment were: having support of a job coach, professionalism, expressing passion for the job, and seeking jobs with low customer contact. Successful microbusinesses within similar reentry organizations involved realistic expectations, client control over business operations, local community involvement, practice of a holistic approach, insurance of high product quality, and a focus on multiple products. Major barriers identified were obtaining start-up capital and revenue not meeting expenses. The most appropriate structure was found to be a social enterprise, which focuses more on non-monetary benefits for the employees rather than a profit focus of a traditional microbusiness. Recommendations based on the findings were made to the client.
Moe, Carolyn; Titzler, Brian; Johnson-Gross, Melissa; Conley, Darek; Blankenberger, Emily; Richardson, Kirk; Owen, Bethan; Griffen, Caleb; Kuka, Andrew; Stanton, George; Troxtel, Lauren; Uresti, Eliud; Thornburg, John; Canfield, Nicholas Anthony; Longwood, Patricia; Linder, Jessica; and Britenstein, Amanda, "Breaking the Cycle of Incarceration: Strategies for Successful Reentry Final Report for Labyrinth Outreach Services for Women" (2015). Stevenson Center for Community and Economic Development. 11.