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Columbia, SC (WLTX) -- Finding a job after serving time in prison can be difficult for former inmates. Employers may not have the option of checking references for former inmates looking for work, but a new Department of Corrections program that is in the works could change that.

Robin Ebert, Program Manager of Goodwill's Employment First, spends her time helping put people to work and has seen the issue first hand with clients.

"If a person can't contact a most recent employer it does make it more difficult especially if they're up against a comparably qualified candidate," she said.

The Department of Corrections' new phone line could help change that. Director Bryan Stirling says the referral call line would provide potential employers with references before they hire.

"There'll be a centralized system where if you're the former offender you can say call this number and the Department of Corrections will be able to give you my WorkKeys, and my certificates and anything that you may be interested in my work history," said Stirling.

WorkKeys is a job skill assessment system.

Employers can also get more information about the work programs a former offender took part in.

Stirling says the program will help keep people committed to the changes they have made in their lives.

"If you don't have a job, the chances of you coming back are very high. Employment is one of the main things that will keep people from returning to the Department of Corrections," he said.

Meaning the program can benefit for the former offender and the community if they don not give up on finding the right job.

"It can be difficult, but it's not impossible," said Ebert.

The Department of Corrections expects the line will be up and running by the end of the month.

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