Prisons are supposed to be about reforming individuals to become better citizens in society. That’s supposedly why they offer GED classes, lucrative hobbies, and prison jobs. The prison I attended had an idea to host a voluntary job fair. The only odd thing about it being voluntary was that it wasn’t; it was mandatory for all prison camp inmates to attend.
Herlong Prison Camp’s “voluntary” job fair was held in the visitor’s room. It was the biggest joke of job fair I had ever seen. The purpose of this job fair was to teach inmates how to conduct themselves during a job fair. They were also supposed to teach inmates how to get the most out of attending a job fair. Normally, if you’re teaching someone this there are some things that they should be given in advance or should have been prepared prior to the job fair. These things include:
- Interview skills
- What to wear
- What questions to ask employers and how to ask those questions
- What to bring (resume, ID, proof of accomplishments, etc)
However, this job fair was nothing like a real job fair. The prison gave us a list of questions to look over (see the questions below), but the job fair wasn’t set up to test them. We couldn’t learn how to use them because the job fair was just an advertisement of halfway houses, schools, and job placement services. I know, job placement services sound like there’s some hope, but they were located in Nevada and we were in Sacramento. The halfway houses were located in Southern California. The schools were all over starting from Southern California to Nevada. The only thing that seemed good was the probation officer from Sacramento, but I never got a chance to meet him.
The inmates walked around for a bit and talked to the people who were advertising their halfway house’s information or school’s information. I was so upset that I left after five minutes – the time they mandated that we had to spend in there. You know you’re really upset when you fill out the survey, well I voiced my opinion on the survey sheet and turned it in.
I believe job fairs are a good idea to help inmates re-establish themselves in the outside community, but it has to be done correctly. I’m not against having the halfway houses or schools at the job fair, but maybe they should have focused on what was best for the inmates.