JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – A Jacksonville City Council member is following up on a promise.
Late last month, City Councilman Reggie Gaffney said any ex-felon or gang member who wants a job should contact him and he will help get them one.
As of Tuesday, Gaffney told News4Jax that nearly 65 people have taken him up on the offer.
Quinones Chisolm is one those people. He was released from prison three weeks ago after serving 11 years for armed robbery. He said he is ready to work and needs the chance to prove he's changed.
"I'm back out. I paid my debt to society. I understand my mistakes," Chisolm said. "I think I deserve an opportunity. Everybody deserves an opportunity."
Gaffney said he's been meeting with the mayor and the head of the city human resources department.
Gaffney has invited those with a record, gang members and others who want a job to come to City Hall on Jan. 4. Gaffney said human resources staff and others will work with them to see where they can be placed.
"We are going to go through the process and take a look at every job that we may believe a person may be qualified -- regardless of their background -- only if they want to work," Gaffney said. "We want to change their life and this is where we are at today."
There are some -- for example, sexual offenders -- who still might find problems. Those with violent crime offenses would not be placed with parks or other similar areas. But Gaffney said those details are being worked out. He believes there are enough jobs with Department of Public Works and other areas of the city.
One of those working behind the scenes is Leroy Patterson. He said this could turn around some of the crime in the community.
"We all need a second chance," Patterson said. "We hope businesses get beyond this and get past this and give these guys an opportunity."