Mayor, Business Owners Give Ex-Cons Second Chances With Restoration Academy


Some rehabilitation experts say nothing beats having a job for building self-esteem.

But for some offenders, finding an employer who will hire them can be a real challenge.

John Rush, who owns Clean Turn International, is working to help those with criminal records find a new path and make a living.

“We saw, out in the market, businesses that weren’t ex-offender friendly, and we wanted to exclusively focus on finding employment for ex-offenders,” said Rush.

Rush said that the only people he will not hire are murderers or sex offenders.

His crews do everything from demolition, to janitorial work, to grounds-keeping to general labor.

Darnell Kirkwood, an ex-offender, said his job really is his second chance.

“You know, he gives guys an opportunity to make better for themselves,” Kirtwood said. “Even though the guys have messed up. I have messed up.”

Columbus Mayor Michael Coleman is giving ex-cons a second chance through his restoration academy, a city-sponsored job training program for ex-offenders.

“And what we have shown is that we can get ex-offenders ready for jobs so that they don’t end up back in jail,” said Coleman.

Coleman said Clean Turn was the first company to hire people from the mayor’s restoration program.

Last year, the company provided employment for 90 male and female ex-offenders.

“It’s OK to take a chance, because I think they’ll be surprised at the performance, attitude and professionalism,” said Rush.

Rush said that to date, no crimes have affected Clean Turn’s operations.

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