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Sunday, June 16, 2019

Jobs for Felons: Companies Pledge Second Chance Opportunities

 Jobs for Felons: Companies Pledge Second Chance Opportunities



The most overlooked and discriminated against segment of the American population is getting a well need boost.  More and more people are looking for ways to help ex-offenders and felons better re-integrate into society.  The closer we look at this, we find that the better we are able to help previously incarcerated individuals, the better off we all will be.


We will look at:


  • Incarceration in America
  • Fair Chance in Employment
  • Fair Chance in Education



Jobs for Felons: Companies Pledge Second Chance Opportunities


Incarceration in America


The United States has the highest incarceration rate in the entire world. The International Centre for Prison Studies estimates that 724 out of every 100,000 American is in prison or jail.

CountryPrison populationPopulation per 100,000Jail occupancy level %Un-sentenced prisoners %Women prisoners %
US2,193,798737107.621.28.9
CHINA1,548,498118N/AN/A4.6
RUSSIA874,16161579.516.96.8
BRAZIL371,482193150.933.15.4
INDIA332,1123013970.13.7
MEXICO214,450196133.943.25
UKRAINE162,602350101.319.56.1
SOUTH AFRICA158,501334138.627.52.1
POLAND89,546235124.416.83
ENGLAND/WALES80,002148112.716.45.5
JAPAN79,05262105.914.75.9
KENYA47,036130284.345.642
TURKEY65,4589177.447.73.3
NIGERIA40,44430101.564.31.9
AUSTRALIA25,790125105.921.67.1
SCOTLAND6,872134107.5214.4
N IRELAND1,3757991.537.42.2
SOURCE: International Centre for Prison Studies

There are over 600,000 people released from American jails and prisons every year.  There are more than 70 million people in this country with some type of criminal record.  Many want desperately to put their pasts behind them but their records continue to haunt them and ruin their chances to get jobs.  The best and most important factor in the successful transition to society is that they find gainful employment.  For most, this is not easy.  In fact, some find it next to impossible.  Without employment, many with criminal records will find themselves once again on the wrong side of the law, while others will will become burdens on the economy.

In the past, it was believed that ex-offenders and felons being shutout of employment was part of their sentences.  It was almost guaranteed that people with criminal records would be routinely discriminated against when it came to employment and educational opportunities.

It cost about $40,000 to keep a person incarcerated.  With a job, instead of going back to prison or becoming a drain on social services resources, previously incarcerated people could become taxpaying, law abiding citizens.  This a win for society, the economy, families and individuals.  With unemployment rates being the lowest in decades, employers are in need of qualified applicants to fill open positions.  The Fair Chance initiative will be great for companies too.


Jobs for Felons: Companies Pledge Second Chance Opportunities



Fair Chance in Employment


One of the most progressive initiatives of Barack Obama's administration was called the Fair Chance Pledge.  The President called on businesses and educational institutions to help make this country stronger by pledging to remove barriers to employment and education for people with criminal records.


Sen. Booker introduces the Fair Chance Act



Though President Obama is no longer in office, many more companies and educational institutions have accepted the challenge to help remove the barriers that having a criminal record has placed in front of so many people.  Four years ago, only 12 or so companies signed the pledge.  The list now numbers in the hundreds.  Large, mid-sized and small businesses all over the country have signed the pledge to help remove barriers to employment that ex-offenders and felons face.

These companies have pledged to:

Ban the Box

There are no questions on initial employment applications regarding criminal history.  This allows employers to establish potential employees' qualifications.  Background checks will only be done if the candidate is being seriously considered for employment.  Of course the nature of the applicant's conviction will be taken into account.

Fair Chance Job Fairs

These companies advertise that their job fairs offer fair chance opportunities

Train Human Resources Staff on Fair Chance Practices

Managers and human resources staff will be trained to make fair hiring decisions as they relate to people with criminal records.  They will keep accurate counts of those hired

Fair and Accurate Background Checks

They will use background check providers who provide current and accurate information.

Fair Chance Internships and Training

People with criminal records will have equal access to internships and training opportunities

The next step would to be to include Fair Chance for Occupational Licensing.  Currently many trades that require licensing or certification are closed to ex-offenders and felons.  Lawmakers and community action groups are pushing to make it easier for previously incarcerated people to obtain licenses.  This would make it easier for people with criminal records to have job opportunities in healthcare, trade unions and other occupations

The fair chance initiative can give both applicants and hiring companies a valuable opportunity. Employers will be able to meet qualified candidates they might otherwise have overlooked, and previously incarcerated people get a shot at the second chance they need to help turn their lives around.



Jobs for Felons: Companies Pledge Second Chance Opportunities



Fair Chance In Education


An estimated 70 million Americans have had contact with the criminal justice system.  Statistics illustrate that non-whites are incarcerated at higher rates and face stiffer penalties than whites.  This is attributed to racial profiling by police, limited access to proper legal defense and other factors.  This disparity has a negative effect on families, communities and our society. 



Beyond the Box



There is an increasing understanding that education plays a huge part in successful transition from prison to the greater society.  Research shows employment and or education reduces the likely hood that individuals will re-offend by over 40 percent.  It makes sense that the best way to ensure that formerly incarcerated people do not go back to prison is to remove the barriers to not only employment, but to education.  This means that institutions of higher learning should have admissions practices that do not exclude those with criminal records.  Part of these practices is not using one's legal past as criteria for admission.  Also criminal records should not be used to determine eligibility for federal financial aid.


Educational institutions understand the value of classroom diversity and creating an atmosphere of inclusion on their campuses.  They understand that educational opportunities translate into employment opportunities which in turn means safer, more prosperous communities. There advantages to the schools too.  Schools that pledge fair admissions practices are eligible for grands and other federal funding for programs that help those with disabilities.  There are also correctional facilities that partnering with colleges to provide degree programs and vocational training that will translate into greater employment opportunities upon release.

You can get a list of companies and schools who have taken the Fair Chance Pledge as well as other companies that hire ex-offenders and felons   Click Here


 Jobs for Felons: Companies Pledge Second Chance Opportunities



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Jobs for Felons: Companies Pledge Second Chance Opportunities


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