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Showing posts with label jobs that hire felons. Show all posts
Showing posts with label jobs that hire felons. Show all posts

Saturday, November 18, 2023

How to Get a Job With a Felony on Your Record


Everyone deserves a second chance.

But in the past, many job seekers with a felony record have found it difficult to reintegrate into the workforce. The dreaded check-the-box-question, “Have you been convicted of a crime in the past 10 years?” can be a huge obstacle.

Change to this approach by employers has been slow, but change is happening.

In 2016, 19 large, influential employers gathered at the White House with President Barack Obama to sign the Fair Chance Business Pledge, which represented “a call-to-action for all members of the private sector to improve their communities by eliminating barriers for those with a criminal record and creating a pathway for a second chance.”

A few years later, the federal “ban the box” law — formally known as the Fair Chance to Compete for Jobs Act of 2019 (FCA) — was enacted to prohibit federal employers, including private companies with federal contracts, from asking about arrests and criminal convictions  before a conditional job offer. Employers can still inquire about criminal history, including a background check, after a conditional offer is made.

Additionally, 37 states and 150 cities and counties across the country have adopted similar “ban the box” laws, according to the National Employment Law Project.

With potential employers being more open, at least publicly, to hiring felons, here’s how job seekers with criminal records should navigate the job hunting process as they attempt to enter the workforce.

Obstacles Felons Face Finding Jobs

When trying to reintegrate into society, formerly incarcerated individuals already are up against the eight ball — without even factoring in a felony conviction on their record.

“It’s different from place to place, but typically you get $200 — enough to get some clothing and a bus ticket, and you have to figure it out from there,” says Adam Sanders, founder and reentry adviser at The Relaunch Pad, an organization that helps felons find employment and reintegrate into society.

“Then if you’ve been in prison for several years, you don’t have a valid government ID aside from your prison ID,” Sanders says. Most people leaving prison don’t have a permanent address or phone number. That process can take several weeks, making it even harder to find work immediately.

Parole requirements can also affect employment. “Having to report two or three times a week during normal business hours can make it very difficult in any job, let alone a job you have trouble getting to begin with,” Sanders says.

Outside of situational difficulties, felons also face a lot of stigma and misconception during the hiring process, Sanders says. They’re viewed as dishonest, lazy, unintelligent or simply not worth investing time in. A potential employer might feel like it’s a countdown to when the job seeker will be back in prison, so why invest in an employee who isn’t going to be around long?

So how do job seekers with criminal records overcome these inherent obstacles?

How to Find a Job With a Felony

Follow these tips on searching for the right jobs and moving through the job search and hiring process.

1. Use word-of-mouth. People without criminal records use their network, friends and family to find jobs. The same applies for people with felony convictions. “That tends to be where I’ve seen people get jobs the fastest,” Sanders says. “Maybe somebody from your church is looking for a receptionist. Apply at companies where you can get a referral and a friend can say, ‘Yeah, I know this guy. He’s a good guy.’ ” Adding that personal angle is a definite advantage when trying to overcome an obstacle like a criminal record.

2. Don’t be picky. “It’s much easier to find a second job after you already have a little bit of job history,” Sanders adds. “If you can get in somewhere and establish yourself as someone who shows up, does their job as a reliable employee, it’s much easier to climb the ladder.”

3. Search in industries that need workers. Manufacturing, manual labor, customer service and restaurants tend to be more open to hiring people with criminal records because they have looser policies. Sanders says COVID-19 also greatly affected employers’ willingness to hire felons. “They’re willing to take a chance because they just need people,” he says.

4. Be proactive. Once you get in front of someone, Sanders says it’s vital to pitch yourself and prove how you’ll be a good employee. “If you can present yourself as somebody who’s willing to go the extra mile, someone who’s willing to take initiative, you’d be surprised at how many people are willing to say ‘sure’ even if your background isn’t ideal.”

5. Honesty is the best policy. Being honest is incredibly important when facing the initial “check-the-box” question: “Have you ever been convicted of a crime?” Almost every employer asks the question, so it’s vital to get the awkward out of the way and go ahead and deal with it. Says Sanders: “If they’re open to hiring people with convictions, they’re looking for people who take responsibility and are going to be honest with their employer going forward.” He adds that there’s no need to go into great detail about the conviction on the front end.

6. Consider going into sales. “This is actually one of the skills that we emphasize with the guys we work with,” Sanders says. “If you can become a good salesman, it literally doesn’t matter what your background is in many cases.” Sales is just a valuable skill to have in general, regardless of whether you have a criminal record. “If you can sell, you can make a great living, and you will always have a job.”

Sanders says the key to finding a job as a felon is just having the right mindset. “It’s not easy, but a lot of people have done it. You can do it, too. Just keep your head up, keep pushing, and something will come along.”

14 Major Companies That Hire Felons

While it’s hard to verify which companies, in practice, are willing to hire felons, many corporations signed the Fair Chance Business Pledge. Some of the more prominent companies include:

  • American Airlines
  • The Coca-Cola Co.
  • Facebook
  • Georgia Pacific
  • Google
  • The Hershey Co.
  • The Johns Hopkins Hospital and Health System
  • Koch Industries
  • PepsiCo
  • Prudential
  • Starbucks
  • Uber
  • Unilever
  • Xerox

See the full list of companies that signed the Fair Chance Business Pledge.

Robert Bruce is a senior staff writer at The Penny Hoarder covering earning, saving and managing money. He has written about personal finance for more than a decade.

This was originally published on The Penny Hoarder, a personal finance website that empowers millions of readers nationwide to make smart decisions with their money through actionable and inspirational advice, and resources about how to make, save and manage money.

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Monday, March 20, 2023

Five Bottom Line Reasons Why Employers Should Hire Ex-Felons

Mike Green, Contributor
Co-founder, ScaleUp Partners LLC

Five Bottom Line Reasons Why Employers Should Hire Ex-FelonsThere is no city in the nation that’s growing faster than the population of 70 million Americans with criminal records. As one of them, former real estate developer R.L. Pelshaw is determined to turn this costly societal burden into an opportunity. “With criminal records it’s difficult for many ex-offenders to get jobs making a livable wage,” Pelshaw said. “Showing (ex) criminals how to be successful in legal businesses is far better then returning to crime, and will change the destiny of millions of people.” For employers, there exists a real opportunity to disrupt the continuous cycle of quarantining humans. And for the sake of society at large, sustainable employment may not only represent our best opportunity to significantly disrupt recidivism and the growing population of Americans with criminal records, it may be our only option. Consider the costs. Between 1973 and 2009, the nation’s prison population grew by 705 percent. Over the past two decades costs of incarceration have skyrocketed more than 305 percent, according to a 2011 Pew study. States now spend more than $52B out of their budgets (second only to Medicaid), for incarceration. And the economic impact inherent in the process of policing and locking up those who perpetrate crimes in our communities is compounded by the economic impact of high recidivism rates of 84 percent for males, age 24 years and younger. This revolving door is fueled by a pipeline that has grown exponentially over the past several decades to the point where the United States incarcerates more of its population than any nation in the world. America’s employers must take note of what happens to released inmates when they re-enter society, often after years of being quarantined, and with little hope of finding employment that funds a new path to productive citizenship. In 2012, more than 630,000 inmates were released into targeted communities across America. According to the latest study by the Bureau of Justice, three of every four released prisoners were re-arrested within the five-year life of the study. An extraordinarily high percentage (89 percent) of ex-felons re-arrested were unemployed. Pelshaw is determined to change that. He launched and self-funded a campaign called, The National Hire Ex-Felons Campaign, designed to inform employers of the benefits of tapping into this 70-million-strong workforce. Of course, there are plenty of unemployed people who do not commit crimes. The suggestion is not that employment alone is a panacea for this national problem. But, there is no other immediate option to developing sustainable financial stability for ex-felons. The longer that former inmates remain unemployed following release, the greater the risk they will seek income through alternative means. Their fate impacts the fate of families, communities and ultimately society at large. Employment is one of the tools we have to address this growing problem. Those who pay their debt to society and emerge from prison with a new perspective and lease on life deserve an opportunity to earn a living. They represent a class of prospective employees unlike any other. But, why should employers assume the risk of hiring ex-felons? You may be surprised by these five fact-based, bottom line reasons. Hiring Incentives: Finding good help is a key factor in running a successful business. Too many employers get robbed daily by lazy employees who work with a sense of entitlement, watching the clock, anticipating that moment they can break free of the bonds that trap them in cubicles, offices and warehouses. Many daydream of weekend getaways and play-cations while robotically moving through tasks, diluting the level of worker productivity. Ex-felons are no stranger to hard work. And they are grateful for the opportunity to earn a living. Most believe they have something to prove to their families and employers. But there are additional bottom line incentives to employers who hire former inmates. Substantial tax credits are available for hiring ex-felons, such as the Federal Work Opportunity Tax Credit. Some states even provide partial wage reimbursement, additional tax credits, and other training funds for employers who hire ex-felons.
“We’ve had three (subsidies) that amount to several hundreds of thousands of dollars to bear down on training our employees,” said Mike Hannigan, CEO of Give Something Back. “It’s amazing to me how many resources are available to a company.” Employers who hire felons can also be eligible to obtain a free fidelity bond funded by the federal government to protect them against employee dishonesty or theft. More importantly, credible studies clearly indicate that ex-felons out of prison seven years or more have no higher rate of committing a crime than non-felons. A 2009 University of Maryland study found that people with a criminal record are at no greater criminal risk after they’ve been out seven to 10 years than those with no record. Employee Reliability: Few things hurt a business more than high turnover rates. Employers who spend too much time with a focus on hiring employees who won’t leave shortly thereafter find themselves neglecting other areas of the business that require attention. Ex-felons have far fewer options than conventional employees. Due to the scarcity of opportunities for ex-felons, many employers that hire them have lower turnover than with conventional hires. According to the Partnership for Safety and Justice, many ex-felons have a favorable employment and educational history. “In general, formerly incarcerated people are as reliable as other workers,” the report states, citing numerous studies. Hiring Opportunity: The landscape of employable ex-felons is large. Ex-offenders on probation often have to maintain employment as a condition of release. Most parolees are drug-tested by their probation officer or halfway house at no expense to employers. Most parole officers and halfway houses welcome contact with employers of supervised felons. That supervision de-risks the employment opportunity and is an added value at no cost to the employer. An estimated 6.9 million persons were under supervision of adult correctional systems in 2013, according to the Bureau of Justice. This is a significant, largely untapped and motivated work force. A 2008 study by the Urban Institute Justice Policy Center found that fewer than 45 percent of felons were employed eight months after being released. In real numbers that means more than 3.5 million prospective workers are available for hire. Economic Impact: Employers can make a considerable difference in transforming a criminal liability into a community asset. Unemployed ex-felons are at a greater risk of re-offending compared to employed ex-felons. Many ex-felons turn to crime and return to jail (recidivism) because they can’t find a job paying a livable wage.
“People who break the law need to be held accountable and pay their debt to society,” said Adam Gelb, director of the Pew Center on the States’ Public Safety Performance Project. “At the same time, the collateral costs of locking up 2.3 million people are piling higher and higher.” According to VERA institute of Justice, the U.S. spends nearly40 billion a year to house inmates. The average cost per state to house one inmate is31,286 per year. But if that one felon gets a job instead of returning to prison, he or she now contributes to the economy by more than $10,000 a year, according to a Baylor University study. Crime Market Disruption: An estimated 70 million U.S. adults have arrest or conviction records based on Bureau of Justice statistics. Tougher sentencing laws, especially for drug offenses, have swelled that total. Society can’t afford to simply banish 70 million people from the workplace. Children of incarcerated adults are the highest at-risk group in America. Many follow in their parents’ footsteps, continuing the cycle of crime and fueling a criminal market pipeline. Children of felons are seven times more likely to be incarcerated themselves. They are more likely (23 percent vs 4 percent) to be expelled or suspended from school than other children.
And the criminal market isn’t just isolated to minority populations. Across the nation, 40 percent of young men (regardless of race) will have a police-record encounter before the age of 23. Of those incarcerated, 84 percent will return to prison. It’s a continuous criminal market cycle that costs taxpayers more than $52 billion a year and threatens the stability of families and communities, in particular those already suffering from economic distress. Employing an ex-felon can disrupt the cycle of this criminal market and provides an opportunity to restore stability to families through a solid financial footing. “To fight the vicious circle of crime and recidivism we need to create ways offenders, ex-offenders, those at risk to offend, and those living off crime (but not yet caught) can make money legitimately,” said Pelshaw, who is also the author of Illegal to Legal: Business Success for (ex) Criminals. With more than 630,000 inmates released into neighborhoods across America every year, the community of ex-felons released each year is larger than the population of many major cities. Employers are already discovering the challenges of finding good employees without criminal records. Perhaps it’s time employers considered the benefits of hiring good employees who happen to be ex-felons. Originally seen at

companies that hire felons

Jobs for Felons: The Facts about Companies that Hire Ex offenders and Felons 

Companies Hire Felons | Companies That Hire Felons | Companies That Hire Ex-offenders | Employers That Hire Ex-offenders | Employers That Hire Felons | Jobs For Felons | Jobs For Ex-offenders | Jobs That Hire Felons | Resumes for Felons | Felon Friendly Jobs | Felon Friendly Employers | Jobs for Felons | Jobs For People That Have Felonies | Jobs For People With A Criminal Record

Eric Mayo

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Monday, February 13, 2023

Can You Start a Business With a Criminal Record?

Can You Start a Business With a Criminal Record?

Yes, you can. Go get 'em, boss!

Originally published at

Having a criminal record can make it difficult to get hired, find a place to live and many other basic tasks. But can it stop you from starting your own business? The short answer is, no it can't stop you.

Former criminals can benefit from starting a business in several important ways:

  • Self-direction. Rather than waiting for someone else to provide you with a job, you have the power to create something for yourself. It’s a challenge of your own making and one that can keep you focused and on the right track.
  • Independence and freedom. Many people start a business because it provides them with independence and freedom. They can make their own decisions and set their own rules, rather than following someone else.
  • Avoiding employment issues. Many ex-cons find it difficult to get hired because of their criminal past. But if you’re starting a business from scratch, you won’t have to go through the interview process; you’ll be working for yourself. Hello boss.

Key limitations

Of course, there are some issues and unique challenges faced by ex-cons attempting to start a business:

  • Felons and certain positions. For starters, felons are sometimes limited in the types of positions they can hold. For example, you may not be able to create a business or establish a position for yourself in the legal or medical field. These restrictions are often in place to protect the public from potentially unscrupulous service providers. However, there are plenty of other options to choose from.
  • Licensing and registry. Depending on the type of business you want to start, you may be required to get a license or permit to operate. Depending on the requirements, these documents may open the door to a personal background check. Your criminal record may make it more difficult to get the documentation and approvals you need to operate.
  • Travel. Criminal records can also impact your ability to travel, interfering with your visa or visa waiver applications. If your business depends on your ability to travel to other countries, you may need to find someone else to handle those responsibilities.
  • Funding. As an ex-con, you may also have trouble finding the funding you need to start your business. Banks that issue loans typically do background checks on borrowers. If you have a criminal history, you may have trouble getting approved for a loan. You may also encounter problems finding an angel investor or VC willing to contribute, based on your past.
  • Partnerships. Similarly, you may find it harder than usual to find a partner willing to build a business with you. You may have to spend a long time looking for someone more open-minded, or you may have to go it alone.

Play to your strengths

If you’re starting a business as someone with a criminal record, there are actually a few things that can play out in your favor if you know how to take advantage of them. For starters, you may be able to qualify for a grant or education program specifically tailored to entrepreneurs with a criminal past. For example, the organization Inmates to Entrepreneurs exists to provide grants, resources, and other forms of assistance to former criminals who want to turn their lives around. And organizations like SCORE offer free business mentoring and education to a wide range of aspiring business owners, regardless of their background.

Conventionally, a criminal record is a “bad thing” for your reputation and public image. However, you may be able to spin it as a positive for the business. For example, if you advertise that this business is hiring former prisoners as a way to help them start a new life, you may attract more customers who want to patronize the business and support it as an organization. This is especially true if you reinvest a portion of your profits into criminal reform programs and other causes that help people with criminal records.

Additionally, there may be some experiences and skills acquired in prison that can help you become a better entrepreneur. For example, if you’re used to an environment that’s both harsh and highly competitive, you’ll be a more ruthless strategist as a leader. And if you’re used to the uncertainty and lack of safety netting in a prison environment, the stress and ambiguity of entrepreneurship may seem tame by comparison.

So is it possible for a former criminal to start a successful business? Yes, it is. Countless ex-cons have gone on to create successful businesses under their direction. There are several obstacles you’ll need to overcome to do this, and there’s certainly no guarantee of success, but by using the right strategies and compensating for your weaknesses, you can increase your likelihood of accomplishing your goals.

15 Businesses You Can Start For Cheap (or even FREE)

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Can You Start a Business With a Criminal Record?

Eric Mayo

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Tuesday, February 7, 2023

Understanding how records can be sealed

Originally published on Feb 23, 2020
Joann Sahl AND Russell Nicholls
Herald Star

Eligible offenders convicted of certain types of crimes can ask the court to expunge, or seal, their convictions. If the court seals a conviction, that conviction is no longer in the public record. Courts seal records so that eligible offenders can move on with their lives without the stigma of a criminal conviction.

Qualifying for sealing

An eligible offender is someone who has no more than five felony convictions. An eligible offender may have unlimited misdemeanor convictions. When a court determines if you are eligible for sealing, it will not consider minor misdemeanors and most convictions for possession of marijuana (which is generally a minor misdemeanor). The court also will not consider most minor traffic offenses, but it will consider convictions for OVIs and DUIs.

Most misdemeanors, fourth and fifth-degree felonies, and in some instances a third-degree felony, can be sealed unless a criminal statute specifically states that a particular crime is not eligible.

Though the court will not consider minor traffic offenses when determining if you are an eligible offender, traffic offenses, including OVIs/DUIs, cannot be sealed. Additionally, you cannot seal first- and second-degree felonies, and any felony with a mandatory prison sentence. Finally, almost all crimes of violence, sex crimes and offenses where the victim was under 16 years old cannot be sealed. However, first-degree misdemeanor assault and domestic violence menacing, a fourth-degree misdemeanor, can be sealed in some circumstances.

How to apply for sealing

You may apply for sealing if one year has passed since your sentence ended for a misdemeanor. If you have one felony, you have to wait three years after your felony sentence ends. For two felonies, the waiting period is four years, and for three to five felonies, you must wait five years after your last felony sentence ended. In addition, the waiting period generally does not begin until you pay any restitution you might owe, as well as fines.

Your request for sealing should be filed in the court where you were sentenced. Once you apply, the court will set a hearing date. The probation department will usually investigate your case and prepare a report for the court to use to determine whether you are an eligible offender. The prosecutor may challenge the sealing request by filing an objection before the hearing date.

The court will determine if you have been rehabilitated, and it will weigh your interest in clearing your name against the government’s need to allow public access to your records. The court will review the probation report to see how you have behaved since the conviction. The decision whether to seal your record is up to the judge.

It is important to know that the court will not automatically seal your case if it was dismissed, you were found not guilty or if the grand jury issued a “no bill” and refused to indict you. You must follow the procedure outlined in this article to get records sealed. There is no waiting period to file for sealing a dismissal or a not guilty verdict. A person may apply to have a “no bill” sealed two years after it is filed.

Access to sealed records

In some situations, the law allows certain employers and state agencies to access your sealed record.

Examples include if you want to care for an older adult, work for a children’s services agency, work for a bank or want to work as a police or corrections officer.

If you apply for a state vocational license, the licensing agency also may be able to see your sealed record. In addition, the police may be able to access your sealed record as part of a criminal case or investigation or if you are seeking a concealed carry permit.

People might also be able to find out about your conviction online. There are many private background check companies, as well as news articles, that may have information about your criminal case. Those organizations will not receive notice that your conviction has been sealed. Once the court seals your record, you should try to notify any organization that has a record of your conviction. It is important to remember that potential employers may use these companies to perform pre-employment background checks, and your conviction could still appear on a background check.

How an attorney can help

It can be complicated to determine if you are eligible to have your criminal record sealed. It requires a review of all of your convictions, even those in other states, and the appropriate law. An attorney can look at your criminal record to help you decide if you are eligible to have your record sealed.

(Sahl is the assistant director of the University of Akron Legal Clinic. Nichols is the director of the Expungement Clinic and the Inmate Assistance program at the University of Akron Law School. The column was written as part of the Ohio State Bar Association’s Law You Can Use series.)

Understanding how records can be sealed

Companies that hire felons

Sealing a Criminal Record

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Understanding how records can be sealed

Eric Mayo

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Friday, February 3, 2023

Facing a stigma, many ex-convicts in the U.S. struggle to find work

Nearly 80 million Americans, or about one-third of the total U.S. adult population, are living with some kind of criminal record.

For more than 19 million Americans, that conviction has led to a felony on their permanent record. And in states like Virginia, that is a stain some are forced to live with for the rest of their lives.

"Are we giving out the potential for someone to reform their life and change, or are we giving them consequences that will prevent them from ever having a life that they never imagined having?" Melod Teymorian, 35, told CBS News. 

Teymorian was convicted of a felony in 2016 for a non-violent drug offense: possession of a controlled substance. He believes the punishment nowhere near fit the crime. Although he has been sober ever since, he said he has been denied numerous employment opportunities and housing.  

"As if you didn't feel bad enough, and you haven't been trying to destroy your life on your own, let's help you," Teymorian said. 

With a sincere and engaging style, Teymorian said he believed that, after each interview, the job was his. 

"They liked who I was and they thought I was a good fit for the job," Teymorian said. "And despite that, because of this possession, as a result of a drug charge, they couldn't move forward."

As luck would have it, Teymorian met David Engwall, executive director for Recovery Unplugged, a rehabilitation center in Northern Virginia. What every employer before him saw as something negative they could not look past, Engwall looked at as a bonus. 

"You see, with a person like Melod, you know, if given the opportunity, and I know there's plenty of people that are like Melod out there, what they will produce will be incredible. They just need to have the opportunity," Engwall proclaimed. 

Engwall has numerous employees with felonies on their records, and believes the term "felon" has been overly stigmatized. When asked what he would say to people who believe felons deserve to be punished their entire lives, his response was simple. 

"I'd say life is incredibly complex," Engwall said. "It's very hard to know the circumstances that lead a person…to how these felonies happen."

"We're allowing this enormous group of people to just sort of waste away and continue to persist in these same issues of employment and housing and access," Engwall added.   

In 2025, Virginia is slated to re-examine its felony law, and look at whether convicted felons will be allowed to expunge that stain from their records. But as it stands today, they cannot be erased. 

"I'm resilient," Melod said. "And I believe that. And that same resiliency that I had to face before I had the job helped when I had the opportunity. I will solve the problem." 

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Jobs for Felons

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Wednesday, January 25, 2023

Jobs for Felons: They Want Something Better

COURTESY PHOTO | Charles participated in the STEP Forward program, which runs through the McHenry County Workforce Network and is designed to fill local employers’ needs while giving ex-offenders an opportunity for employment. “I’m so grateful for them,” Charles said.

by Susan W. Murray, The Woodstock Independent

Charles, a 41-year-old McHenry County resident, grew up “in a diverse community where there were gangs and drugs.”

By the age of 13, he was caught up in both. At 17, he went to prison for the first time at the Joliet Correctional Facility. He spent 13 years of his life incarcerated.

“There were many instances when I should have been dead,” Charles said. “At one point, I was, almost.”

Upon his last release, he realized how tired he was of the life he had been living.

“I wanted to do better for myself,” he said.

Up against long odds

Minimum wage jobs filled the gaps between prison stretches, but they didn’t add up to a career path. While considering getting a commercial driver’s license, Charles heard about the STEP Forward program – Stateline Transforming Employment Potential.

Launched in 2018, the program grew as a response to the needs of McHenry County employers.

As a business services representative at the McHenry County Workforce Network, which assists job seekers in finding positions, Thomas Faber tries “to find out what local employers need.”

That need, especially as the economy improved after 2010, Faber said, was for “more and more skilled workers.”

In pondering that problem, Faber came to a somewhat surprising solution.

“I don’t think that we’ve considered people who have criminal backgrounds,” he thought.

The FBI’s centralized database lists 70 million people in the United States who have criminal records. That’s nearly 28 million more than have bachelor’s degrees and represents 21 percent of the population.

“We need to be open to the possibility that ex-offenders can be good workers,” Faber said.

Workshops start process 

A board member of the Stateline Society of Human Resource Management, Faber took his idea to other board members, hoping it could address employers’ needs and help ex-offenders.

The board reacted enthusiastically and set up a STEP Forward Steering Committee. Faber and the committee created a five-week series of workshops to be run through the Workforce Network to help ex-offenders plan a return to work, identify a career path, write a résumé, and handle themselves in job interviews, with tips on how to keep a job and advance at a company.

McHenry County College supported the program with pre-apprentice training and then created boot camps – short-term training in various fields, including manufacturing.

Faber recruited volunteer presenters from MCC, local employers, human resource departments, and state and government agencies.

“The first workshop had two participants and six volunteers,” Faber said. “We outnumbered them.”

But the word got out, and soon more participants were signing up for the five-session workshops.

Combining work, training

Faber sits down with each ex-offender who comes to the Workforce Network, including some convicted of armed robbery and murder, but he is comfortable meeting face-to-face.

“A majority of them have gone through a transformation,” Faber said. “They want something better.”

He is less interested in the crimes his interviewees have committed and more “in how transparent they are.”

“If they’re honest, that’s someone I can work with and who an employer can work with,” Faber explained.

After Charles completed his workshop sessions, he identified an interest in CNC – computer numerical control of machine tools. After starting classes on lathe and mill operation through the Technology and Manufacturing Association, Charles heard from Faber about an opportunity to work at Variable Operations Technologies (Vo-Tech, Inc.) in Crystal Lake for 20 hours a week, getting on-the-job training while continuing his education.

Afraid that people would look down on him for his many tattoos and his “vernacular,” Charles dedicated himself to being on time, paying attention to detail, and being a hardworking employee. He “always had a strong work ethic,” he said, even when he was involved in the drug trade.

“This time, putting my best foot forward led me in the right direction,” he said.

When Charles finished his classes, he was hired full time as a CNC technician at Vo-Tech.

The job came with a steady income, insurance, vacation time, and a gym where employees may work out. During the pandemic, Vo-Tech’s production of computer-automated machining systems for the nuclear, healthcare, agriculture, and food industries meant that he was considered an essential employee.

“That was a great feeling,” he said. “I take pride in going to work every day.”

Creating believers

Adam Furman, Vo-Tech’s operations manager, said that four of his company’s 24 employees have come from the STEP Forward program.

His sister and fellow Vo-Tech employee, Jennifer Chrachol, first heard of the program. She learned that companies that hire and train someone from STEP Forward are eligible for cost reimbursement and subsidies for the person’s salary.

While acknowledging the financial pluses of the program, Furman said he would advise other companies not to sign on “just to benefit from the program.”

“Hiring people is always a risk,” Furman said, and he praised Faber for the job he does to screen people before recommending them to a local employer.

“These people are hungry to learn, to get a job, and to start a new direction in their lives,” Furman said. “It’s hard to find that sort of person, even without a criminal background.”

Furman makes it a point to go out on the floor and talk with his employees each day before heading to his office.

“You have to get to know the people and build a relationship with them to create trust,” Furman said. “We’re trying to be that company that gives people a second chance.”

Plaudits and plans

Faber said he resisted the urge to judge the STEP Forward’s success by “looking at the numbers.”

“I value the good fit and the retention,” he said.

He also does not measure how long it takes the workshops’ participants to get a job.

“All are individuals, and some are more ready than others,” he said.

This year, STEP Forward received the Pinnacle Award from the national HR society in Washington, D.C., in recognition of the initiative’s positive impact on the local HR and business communities.

Since receiving the award, Faber has heard from HR society chapters in Rockford and Springfield that want to replicate the model.

STEP Forward recently wrapped up its fall workshops – held via Zoom – with three participants who have career dreams as diverse as robotic systems engineer, a paralegal, and nursing.

The emphasis is to “think bigger,” Faber said.

“Ex-offenders will have better success if they resist taking just anything and look for the job that’s the right fit,” he said.

Faber plans a second employer workshop for next summer to encourage local businesses to hire STEP Forward participants, familiarizing business owners with the tax credits, grants, and other funding available and having attorneys on hand to talk about legal issues.

This year, Charles received an individual achievement award from the Illinois Workforce Partnership for overcoming barriers and getting back to work. He will soon start a TMA apprenticeship to be a certified CNC machinist and has been inspired to create TikTok videos, such as “Top Jobs for Ex-Felons in 2021,” in an effort to reduce recidivism.

“I want to be a man of value,” Charles said, “a man who has knowledge in his industry and can make his company better.”

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Jobs for Felons: The Facts about Companies that Hire Ex offenders and Felons

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Tuesday, December 13, 2022

New York Casinos Could Soon Be Permitted to Hire Convicted Felons

New York Casinos Could Soon Be Permitted to Hire Convicted Felons
New York Gov. Kathy Hochul received legislation this week that seeks to qualify certain convicted felons to work inside the state’s commercial casinos. New York’s gaming industry is set to expand beginning next year with the consideration of downstate casinos. (Image: The New York Times)

Originally Posted on: December 8, 2022 - by 
Devin O'Connor 

New York casinos upstate and the two racinos downstate say they aren’t fielding enough applications from interested workers, but help could soon be on the way.

New York law prohibits anyone with a felony conviction on their criminal record from gaining employment in the state’s commercial gaming industry. State lawmakers want to terminate that condition.

In June, the New York State Legislature passed a bill that would qualify felony convicts for employment in the state’s commercial gaming industry. The legislation — Senate Bill 1443B — was introduced by state Sen. Joe Addabbo (D-Queens). Assemblyman Gary Pretlow (D-Mount Vernon) championed the statute in the Assembly.

The measure received strong bipartisan support. The Assembly voted 110 to 34 in favor of SB1443B, while the Senate approved the statute with a 56-7 vote.

Addabbo chairs the New York Senate Racing, Gaming, and Wagering Committee. Pretlow spearheads the Assembly’s Standing Committee on Racing and Wagering.

New York Gov. Kathy Hochul (D) hasn’t yet said whether she intends to sign the measure. The bill was only forwarded to the governor this week.

Criminals Can Apply

Addabbo and Pretlow’s gaming employment bill seeks to remove hiring hurdles for the state’s four upstate commercial casinos and the two downstate racino venues. The latter only have video lottery terminals and electronic table games operating. The statute, if signed by Hochul, would allow more New Yorkers to consider jobs in the gaming sector.

No casino key employee license shall be denied solely on the basis of a conviction,” SB1443B reads. The mandate qualifies former criminals only if the applicant has “affirmatively demonstrated rehabilitation.”

The New York State Gaming Commission would still retain the authority to deny a key employee license in part because of an applicant’s criminal past. The gaming employment statute also continues to prevent criminals who have been convicted of felony theft, fraud, perjury, and/or embezzlement from being allowed to work in the state commercial gaming industry.

Thousands of Jobs Forthcoming

New York is nearing the end of a 10-year moratorium that only allowed full-scale casinos to operate upstate outside of New York City’s five boroughs, the Lower Hudson Valley, and Long Island. The state’s 2013 casino act allowed for four upstate and three downstate casino properties.

Next year, New York will begin fielding full-scale casino bids from interested developers. MGM Resorts’ Empire City Casino in Yonkers and Genting’s Resorts World New York City in Queens — currently operating as racinos that are prevented from offering live dealer table games, Las Vegas-style slot machines, and retail sports betting — are the betting front-runners for two of the casino licensing opportunities.

MGM said last month it would look to hire about 2,500 additional workers in Yonkers, should its property receive one of the downstate casino licenses. Resorts World would also be expected to hire thousands of additional workers to handle the resort’s expanded footprint, should it receive a casino concession.

The third and final remaining license is where a fiercely competitive bidding process will ensue. The bidding war will include some of New York’s richest and most powerful billionaires, including Mets owner Steve Cohen, the Yankees’ Steinbrenner family, Stephen Ross, and Jay Z.

Companies that Hire Felons

Jobs for Felons

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