YOUNGSTOWN, Ohio (WKBN) – Helping those who have spent time behind bars get back on their feet was the focus of a day-long seminar at Youngstown State on Thursday.
The event was organized by Youngstown’s Community Initiative to Reduce Violence (CIRV) and included more than 30 local service agencies.
Among those in attendance were teens recently released from custody as well as people with criminal convictions on their record.
Organizers said the biggest obstacle facing former inmates is knowing where to turn for help.
“Employment is huge. But more than that, I believe it is just a lack of information flow,” said Guy Burney, CIRV coordinator. “Help is there, but if I don’t know how to access the help, it is really frustrating.”
Burney said organizers wanted the conference to serve as a way to reach a wider group of people with information rather than trying to help former offenders one at a time.
“When I have information, that provides hope for me. If I know something can be situated, I may have to work. Now it is work involved. It is not an easy process,” said Burney. “I still have to deal with the decision I made. But if I have the information, I know there is hope.”