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Cutting risks of hiring offenders

Employers interested in extending second chances to people on probation or parole can work with a local staffing service that tries to minimize the risk.

Opportunity Staffing, an arm of nonprofit Blue Jacket Inc., places workers in temporary and transitional jobs in the area.

Jennifer Winkeljohn, secretary of Blue Jacket’s board, said the organization prepares former offenders to make the most of work opportunities.

Blue Jacket, 2826 S. Calhoun St., was created in 2003 by Allen County Community Corrections to teach work and life skills that help parolees and probationers return to society.

Only those clients who complete a 60-hour career academy are placed with employers, according to Blue Jacket’s website. Participants are taught good work habits and receive support from mentors.

The staffing company also bonds – or buys insurance on – its clients to protect employers from losses.

The system allows companies to make sure a worker is a good fit before committing to hire him.

“This arrangement lowers your risk as an employer,” the website says. “It also can save you money if you have a high turnover rate or lack the time to select new employees on your own: By helping reduce your cost per hire, we can become an effective and ongoing recruiting partner.”

Opportunity Staffing has worked with hundreds of clients, Winkeljohn said. It places them in jobs at auto dealers, repair shops, manufacturers, construction companies, professional offices and other work sites.

Unlike some competitors, the staffing service doesn’t charge a fee if an employer decides to hire a worker to a permanent position.