As an employer I never thought about this issue until becoming a convicted felon myself. I served ten months at Leavenworth Federal Prison Camp for a mistake nearly all businessmen have done: I “robbed Peter to pay Paul” in the height of the Great Recession. I’m not justifying it, and I didn’t intend to commit a crime. Don’t worry, I didn’t rob anyone, there was no theft, Ponzi scheme, conspiracy, fraud, or anything as exotic as that. I was convicted of making a false statement by temporarily, and stupidly, misusing SBA loan funds. The project opened and all the loan funds got to the venture, but it regrettably failed and I defaulted on the loan. Before sentencing I was often told that if I could pay the debt the charges would go away. My lack of money created the situation that got me labeled as a convicted felon.
While at Leavenworth I was surprised to learn how many men committed crime for economic reasons like basic survival, family support, or the lucrative earnings. “Common sense” tells us many ex-felons return to crime to support themselves when they can’t find a job with a livable wage.
Could employers not hiring felons be contributing to higher crime and recidivism rates?
Many people could leave crime forever if employers would consider hiring ex-felons. For those ex-offenders and persons at risk to offend that can’t find a job, I point them to my book “Illegal To Legal: Business Success For (Ex) Criminals” which shows how to use life skills to start a business and become an employer hiring ex-felons.
The National Campaign To Hire Ex-Felons will launch this Spring. It seeks to educate employers and hiring managers on the free Protections, Resources, and Substantial Bottom-Line Benefits that are available when they hire ex-felons. The brochure “The Ten Bottom-Line Benefits To Hire Ex-Felons” is the bedrock of this Campaign, and is included below. Its also a free download, or brochure purchase, at www.illegaltolegal.org on the Job Resources page. Please share this information, and look for the launch of the Campaign!
We don’t want to appeal to your humanitarian side and play the “everyone deserves a second chance” card. Instead, here are ten fact-based bottom-line benefits of hiring felons.
1. Show me the money! Substantial tax credits are available for hiring felons, and the programs are very easy to use without a lot of red tape. Check this site for the Federal Work Opportunity Tax Credit www.doleta.gov/wotc. Some states even provide partial wage reimbursement, additional tax credits, and other training funds for employers that hire felons. Check your local state’s Department of Revenue and Workforce Development Office for programs where you live.
2. I need some assurances. How about some free insurance for you? Employers that hire felons can be eligible to obtain a free fidelity bond funded by the Federal Government to protect you against employee dishonesty or theft. Look for the contact in your state at www.bonds4jobs.com. 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.
3. Does that come with a guarantee? Yep – especially if someone is on probation. Ex-offenders on probation often have to keep a job and perform well at work as a condition of their release from prison. Most parolees are drug-tested by their probation officer or halfway house regularly at no expense to you. Most parole officers and halfway houses welcome contact with employers of supervised felons, and they will even refer you more workers if you let them know the type of person you want to hire. A parole officer supervising a felon you employ = added value at no cost to you!
4. What’s the turnover rate? Due to the scarcity of employers that hire felons, many employers that hire felons have surprisingly lower turnover than with conventional hires. As mentioned, parole officers and halfway houses can be a great source of new workers – without the expense and trouble of placing an ad or paying a staffing agency.
5. When’s the last time you felt appreciated? It’s not just rescued dogs from the animal shelter that show loyalty and appreciation: so do most felons you hire. Isn’t a human better than a dog?
6. I can’t seem to find good help. That’s because you haven’t tried hiring felons. Considering them will enlarge the labor pool you can draw from.
7. Don’t contribute to higher crime & recidivism rates. Many ex-offenders return to crime (& jail) because they can’t find a job to support themselves or their families. Please consider that employers that refuse to hire felons may actually be contributing to higher crime and recidivism.
8. Good workers are in short supply and recidivism costs everyone. You have a unique opportunity to be on the solution end of this persistent and expensive cycle.
9. Everybody DOES NOT deserve a second chance – but some do. Those who deserve a second chance are the ones that will demonstrate, not just with words but with their actions that they are sorry for their past mistakes and can prove that their past is in the past. Who wouldn’t want to help that person?
10. What difference can I make? More than you think. Look at the costs of housing one inmate per year, compared to the economic impact of having one more productive tax-paying citizen spending money in our economy (instead of draining costs from it), and you can see hiring ex-offenders makes a HUGE difference. You can help strengthen our economy and impact crime and recidivism by hiring a felon.
Here’s how to help improve Crime, Recidivism, the Costs of Incarceration, and a Lack of Good Workers. Be part of the solution and HIRE A FELON !
(m) 402-401-9523, firstname.lastname@example.org,
Facebook, www.facebook.com/illegaltolegal, Twitter: @Illegaltolegal. Link to order Bob’s book, Illegal to Legal: Business Success For (ex) Criminals.”
Lynn Springer, Advocate, Innocent Spouses & Children
George Bresnan, Advocate, Ex-Pats
Jim Gabal, Development
Babz Rawls Ivy, Media Contact
We are grateful for donations from individuals, religious groups, charities, foundations and the like. Donations can be made by credit card/PayPal or by sending your check payable to: “Progressive Prison Ministries, Inc.” P.O. Box 1232, Weston, Connecticut 06883. Progressive Prison Project/Innocent Spouse & Children Project are missions of Progressive Prison Ministries, Inc. We are a CT Religious Corp. with 501c3 status – all donations are tax deductible to the extent permitted by law. Thank you for your support and generosity.