Innovation is a monthly column in Madison Magazine covering startups, entrepreneurism, and innovative ideas coming out of Dane County, Wisconsin.
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The Way Out
Startup aims to create meaningful employment after incarceration.
Madison Magazine monthly Innovation column, October 2020
After Ruben Gaona paid his debt to society, he was ready to work. Thirteen days after his release from federal prison for drug-related crimes, the U.S. Navy veteran applied for a nearly $20-per-hour job as a case manager for a workforce development company. Its operations manager said his skills and experience made him a great fit, and he was sent to the staffing agency that handled all company hires. It was supposed to be a formality, but when the agency recruiter learned of Gaona’s criminal record, she suddenly told him that job had a one-year waitlist and offered him a $7.50-per-hour janitorial position instead. “My kid’s working at Taco Bell — he makes $9.50 per hour, and I’ve got to go home and take care of him still,” Gaona recalls. “I got into the car and started crying.”
—Maggie Ginsberg is an associate editor at Madison Magazine and a long-time award-winning freelance writer. Innovation is her monthly column for Madison Magazine focused on startups, entrepreneurism and innovative ideas coming out of Dane County, Wisconsin.