Does this mere title scare you? Have you ever thought about why you might hire someone with a criminal record or do you just expect other firms to do that? One of the big problems in our society is that we in the US jail far more people per capita than other countries. And if they cannot find jobs when they have paid the price for their crimes, how do you expect them to live? So yes, there is a moral case to be made.

There is also a business case – related to performance and retention. Plus in the tight labor markets in MetroDC it is still a labor market many have not tapped.

Some background:

  • Over half of all convicted prisoners are in for non-violent crimes
  • Minorities carry the highest burden and there is good evidence of discrimination in the entire legal process.
  • The majority of prisoners are in state prisons (59%) and local jails (28%)
  • One-third of working age Americans have a criminal record.
  • In Alexandria, their unemployment rate is 65%, which is a little lower than the national average.

The federal government has several programs to help returning citizens (one of the many terms used besides ex-convicts – and my personal favorite) with job skills and employment. There are also programs to help employers hire them – from bonding to tax incentives.

Many national employers and local construction firms have extensive experience in successfully hiring and retaining people with criminal records. Small and mid-size businesses will find excellent local support for their efforts to do so.

I recently attended the Fair Chance Business Summit, a program of the Alexandria Reentry Council on hiring returning citizens. There were a number of local employers talking about their successes as well as service providers who work with employers. If you would like to learn more about your options as an employer, here are some excellent resources.

Alexandria Reentry Council

Offender Aid and Restoration

DOL Reentry Information

MetroDC Goodwill services