August 18, 2021
An estimated 70 million people in the U.S. have an arrest or conviction record, and over 600,000 men and women are released from jail each year. Successfully reintegrating these individuals brings many advantages. First, there are advantages to these individuals who can get a fresh start supporting and taking care of themselves and their families. Second, employers can benefit by tapping into a talented labor force to meet their workforce needs. And, third, society as a whole gains when ex-offenders are connected to employment opportunities and their communities in terms of reduced recidivism and development of human capital.
Connecting the formerly incarcerated with employment is critical, providing a secure income, stability, and a connection with other members of society. When employers align their interests with social service work—supporting housing agencies, health care providers, nonprofits, and the criminal justice system—the chances of successful reintegration are even greater.
This issue brief explores the benefits to employers that hire formerly incarcerated individuals, identifies barriers to entry for those with criminal convictions, highlights programs and organizations working to break down these barriers, and discusses developments concerning state and federal legislation that supports second and fair chance hiring. Finally, the brief makes recommendations for further action.