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Hiring ex-cons is more than a mission of mercy. It can be smart business.

James Reiner, our good friend from Colorado has been up to some great things combining business and ministry. For James, hiring ex-cons to be a part of his business has been more than just a mission of mercy. It's been smart business. Christianity Today paid James a visit and wrote this article in their tour across several cities for their "This is Our City" series. 

Recidivism is an ungainly word for a disturbing reality: the proportion of people released from prison who are rearrested or returned to custody. In the United States, according to a recent study from the Pew Center on the States, 43.3 percent of convicts released in 2004 were back in prison three years later.

There are many reasons for this stubbornly high rate—it has barely budged in at least a decade—but high on the list is the difficulty former prisoners have in finding legitimate employment. Who wants to hire an ex-con?

In Denver, the answer is Belay Enterprises. Founded in 1995, Belay's mission is to partner with the church to create businesses that employ people rebuilding their lives after serving a prison sentence. Executive director James Reiner has been working for the company for over 13 years. "We create businesses for folks who have been excluded from the job market."

Belay combines entrepreneurialism with spiritual and vocational development. The group's first company, Bud's Warehouse, started as a supplier of secondhand and overstocked building materials. Male employees thrived in that environment, while women facing the challenges of life after prison plus single motherhood were the target employees of the next business, a secondhand children's clothing store called Baby Bud's. A cleaning service followed, with additional businesses in the works. Read the rest of the article at Christianity Today's Site

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posted by Justin Forman | 4.24.2012 - 5:55 AM


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