Awesome Brother: Former Inmate Gives Opportunities to Help Ex-Offenders Get on their Feet
Lonnie Hunt, a former inmate, hires ex-offenders for his business in Oklahoma. Despite conventional misperception, Hunt believes that former felons work harder than those who have never been to jail. Giving jobs to former inmates is important to the community and Hunt sees this as his chance to give back while making a profit. Corrections officers say that joblessness encourages recidivism for former inmates, causing them to return to crime. Businesses like Hunt’s not only help them stay out of jail, but it will also save Oklahoma tax payers a lot of money. It costs $20,000 a year for the state to provide for one inmate.
Hunt’s business, Guaranteed Construction, consists of over 12 employees that work to repair buildings in Oklahoma City. The city’s major hailstorm provides them with plenty of work, especially roof work. Hunt is a more-than-qualified construction worker, who received his certification from CareerTech Service Center in plumbing while behind bars in the Joseph Harp Correctional Center.
In 2008, a local plumbing business gave Hunt a job and the opportunity to rebuild his life. In his own business, Hunt believes in hiring former inmates as a way of giving back. But Hunt does not just pick up strays, he only takes on hard-workers. Hunt does not exclusively hire felons, as most of his employees are not felons. But the ones that he does hire appreciate the job because they know that its nearly impossible to get a fresh start after prison.
Men like Lonnie Hunt are both heroes and examples to the African American community. America incarcerates black men at a rate that is seven times greater than white males. Also, black men are more likely to go to prison even when they commit the same crimes as whites. For many of these men, incarceration turns into a life sentence, where they can’t vote for life and can’t get jobs after checking “the little box” that asks if they’ve ever been convicted of a felony.
Entrepreneurship is one of the few paths of hope for men who’ve been incarcerated. Lonnie Hunt, by owning his own business, is not only free from the grips of oppression, he is also able to provide for his family and help other men to do the same. Black men are better off when they are entirely and completely free.
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