Apr 05, 2019

Americans are Ready to Provide Second Chances

Post by Freedom Partners

This week, the White House kicked off Second Chance Month with renewed dedication to breaking down barriers for formerly incarcerated individuals.

President Donald Trump was joined by members of Congress, along with business and nonprofit leaders, including Freedom Partners Chairman Mark Holden, to tout the success of the First Step Act and shift focus to employment for those with criminal records.

Signed into law last year, the First Step Act addresses sentencing and rehabilitation programs to better prepare inmates for their eventual release. One of the next steps in criminal justice reform is to address obstacles that prevent people from getting jobs and other things that reduce the likelihood of them going back to prison.

The first day of Second Chance Month featured several breakout sessions covering innovations in re-entry and second-chance hiring. Many businesses, including Koch Industries, have led the way in opening up employment to people with previous convictions by removing questions about criminal history from their initial job applications.

Securing a job is one of the keys to successful re-entry following release from prison. Steady work allows returning citizens to contribute to their communities, provide for their families and avoid the cycle of recidivism that is all too prevalent in the United States.

Polling last year found that most HR professionals and hiring managers are willing to hire individuals with criminal records. However, employees who were surveyed speculated that more many employers weren’t doing so out of fears that it would turn away customers. Well, new polling released this week shows those concerns are largely unfounded.

The survey, released by the Charles Koch Institute and the Society for Human Resource Management, found:

  • 78 percent of customers will buy goods or services from businesses where a customer-facing employee has a nonviolent criminal record.
  • 55 percent of customers feel comfortable buying goods or services from businesses if a customer-facing employee has spent five or more years in prison.
  • 75 percent of customers feel comfortable if the business they are buying goods or services from is known to give those who have a criminal record a second chance by giving them a job.

Freedom Partners has continued to shed light on the need for more reforms in the justice system, as well as the importance of businesses stepping up to give formerly incarcerated individuals a second chance.

Read more about criminal justice reform from Freedom Partners.