FILE - Job fair

Job seekers line up for a job fair.

Gov. Kim Reynolds wants business owners to hire paroled inmates, saying those formerly imprisoned could help address the many job vacancies in Iowa.

Reynolds met with a group of small business owners this month to discuss the state’s plans to increase job prospects for paroled inmates.

According to the governor, Iowa business owners are not fully aware of the education and training programs currently implemented in the state’s criminal justice system. The programs give inmates the opportunity to learn job skills in preparation for life after release, as well as motivate them to avoid returning to prison.

Speaking at the Iowa Correctional Institute for Women in Mitchellville, Reynolds stated that providing parolees an avenue to better themselves after paying their debts to society is “a moral responsibility.”

"Prison shouldn’t be one stop in a circle that leads back to prison,” she said. “It needs to connect people with the opportunities to improve themselves and their skills.”

Reynolds entered the highest office in Iowa with visions of executing what she calls her “second chance” agenda. Her visit to the Mitchellville women’s facility was the first of a series of events to encourage employers to hire ex-inmates.

Lt. Gov. Adam Gregg presided over the first meeting of the criminal justice reform committee put together by Reynolds with the purpose of reducing recidivism and bias in the criminal justice system.

In addition to finding work for ex-convicts, the governor seeks to restore voting rights for felons through a constitutional amendment.