Jeff Humphrey, Media Content Coordinator, 509.625.6308
Monday, April 29, 2019 at 2:58 p.m.
Just about all of us have benefited from a second chance in life.
Now, 37-year-old Cody Poole is trying to put his criminal past behind him.
“Some bad choices I made myself. I got caught up in a conspiracy to distribute cocaine and methamphetamine,” lamented Poole.
Poole spent almost seven years in federal prison.
Poole was still on probation when he enrolled in the Associated General Contractors Head Start to the Construction Trade Program.
“The overall goal is that we give these offenders some hope, and that when they released, they are able to get employed,” explained Mike Ankney of the Inland Northwest AGC.
Under the watchful eye of a Geiger Corrections officer, inmates learn how to frame, hang drywall and drive a forklift.
All things the former drug dealer had never done before.
“I had my mind set that I didn’t want to go back to that life but, I didn’t really know what I was going to do. They really set me up to win,” Poole said of the AGC class.
Armed with new skills and a lot of determination, Poole landed a full time job with the City of Spokane Streets Department.
“It’s just so important to get that second chance opportunity and seize it while you have it,” Poole said of his new position.
The city of Spokane helped Poole qualify for his commercial driver’s license.
One of Poole’s new duties includes hauling around and dumping the asphalt crews use to patch city streets. It’s hard work, but Poole says it’s so much better than doing time behind bars.
“Where I was 16 months ago, it’s almost like I’m dreaming, but I’m not. I’m here and I’m doing it and I’m real proud of what I’ve accomplished.”
Helping former criminals get a second chance is one reason why the Spokane City Council made it illegal for employers to ask about an applicant’s criminal history before a job interview.
“We in Spokane want to hire the people who are most qualified and not based on the worst day in their lives. Keeping criminal history off the application allows us to evaluate who’s most qualified and then we circle back and find out their history and if they’re still a good match. Cody is exactly why we passed this ordinance and he’s really going to help the city,” predicted City Councilman Breean Beggs.
Beggs and Poole are now asking other prospective employers to consider, looking beyond a person’s criminal past.
“Give him at least a shot at the interview process and give him a chance. Write out what you expect him to do and if he doesn’t do that then, that’s on him. But at least give him the opportunity to prove himself as a man,” urged Poole.
The Head Start to the Construction Trade Program is funded, in part, by the City of Spokane Community, Housing & Human Services Department.