June 14, 2017: The Legal Action Center congratulates the ACLU and its Trone Private Sector and Education Advisory Council on releasing “Back to Business: How Hiring Formerly Incarcerated Jobseekers Benefits Your Company,” which documents the successful corporate policies that give formerly-incarcerated Americans a fair chance at employment and reentry.
“This important report highlights the enormous value – both to business and society overall – of creating pathways to employment opportunities for the millions of talented and qualified Americans who have criminal records,” says Roberta Meyers, LAC’s Director of the National H.I.R.E. Network (Helping Individuals with criminal records Re-enter through Employment). As the leading national project that has been advocating to increase the number and quality of job opportunities available to people with criminal records for nearly two decades, Meyers states, “The Legal Action Center, along with our partners at the Lawyers Committee for Civil Rights Under the law and the National Workrights Institute, were honored to work with the Advisory Council to share best practices on employing qualified jobseekers with criminal records.”
In the US today, over 70 million people – 1 in 3 adults – have a criminal record. To the detriment of individuals, families, communities, and the economy at large, these men and women are often locked out of employment opportunities upon release. According to the report, “Because of the stigma associated with a criminal record, nearly 75% of formerly incarcerated individuals are still unemployed a year after release…At the national level, economists estimate that the gross national product is reduced between $78 and $87 billion dollars as a result of excluding formerly incarcerated job seekers from the workforce.”
The report also highlights fair and effective hiring practices that will help employers minimize any potential risk for negligent hiring and can vastly expand the labor pool of qualified candidates that could be considered for employment. Businesses that employ fair chance policies will ensure the accuracy and relevance of background data they obtain; take affirmative steps to reach qualified jobseekers; and monitor their progress toward achieving diversity and equal opportunity in their workforces.
“LAC’s National H.I.R.E. Network has been and remains committed to not only pushing for policy change that ensures Americans have a fair chance at reentry and employment post-conviction, but to raising awareness about mass incarceration and the untapped workforce of qualified individuals left in its aftermath,” says Meyers. “By expanding job opportunities for thousands of justice-involved individuals, American companies can positively impact the economy and public safety by providing employment that offers the opportunity for self-sufficiency and a contributing member of society.”
Since its founding in 2001, the Legal Action Center’s National H.I.R.E. Network has provided leadership on issues at the intersection of criminal justice and reentry policies, provided technical assistance and training to reentry service providers, and facilitated collaboration between individuals directly affected by the criminal justice system, advocates, policymakers, workforce development practitioners, employers, and researchers. You can find further information and resources about hiring qualified individuals with criminal records here.