Columbus Company Gives Ex-Cons A Second Chance At Employment

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UPDATED: Wednesday April 23, 2014 5:40 PM

A popular national retailer with several stores in Central Ohio faces hundreds of thousands of dollars in fines for refusing to people who've done time.

And it could impact central Ohio's job market.

Bed Bath & Beyond has 1,400 stores nationwide.

The New York Attorney General says the company discriminated against job applicants who are ex-offenders

It's not easy landing a job without a criminal record.  Those who have a criminal past believe once they've paid their debt to society, they deserve a second chance to be hired.

In Columbus, some are finding employers are willing to give them that opportunity.

Alphonso Byrd says his conviction for breaking and entering was the only thing keeping him from getting a job.  “With any kind of theft, it's hard for people to trust you, but the people at CleanTurn have been tremendously great.”

CleanTurn is a Columbus company that employs only ex-cons.  After two years in business, it now has 30 ex-cons working around the city in landscaping, demolition work and general contracting.

“We take basically anyone," says former felon Andrea Henderson.

Anyone willing to leave a life of crime.

Henderson went from serving two years in prison for theft to becoming the company's operations manager.

“If you're not able to provide income for yourself and your family, you're more than likely to go back and do things that you were doing prior to your incarceration and start reoffending, Henderson says.

But hiring an ex-con is something a lot of companies shy away from.

Bed Bath & Beyond was allegedly rejecting applicants based solely on their criminal history.  The state of New York slapped the company with  a $125,000 fine.

In a statement to 10TV, company spokesperson Leah Drill said, "Although the Settlement does not include any admission that we violated any of these laws, we are in agreement with the Attorney General that employment opportunities should remain open to individuals with criminal histories that have been rehabilitated.”

For ex-cons like Alphonso Byrd, he says he's grateful someone looked beyond his past, so he could have a future.

“The only thing that they ask is that you are dedicated to the mission that those who have had challenges in their background can be redeemed.”

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