The United States of America holds more than 2.4 million people in 1,719 state prisons, 102 federal prisons, 2,259 juvenile correctional facilities, 3,283 local jails, and 79 Indian Country jails as well as in military prisons, immigration detention facilities, civil commitment centers, and prisons in the US territories. While nearly 700,000 ex-offenders are released from prison every year, ex-prisoners face a daunting task to successfully re-enter the society.
60% of ex-prisoners are unemployed one year after their release from prison. Without a source of income, many have trouble finding housing. The stress of unemployment also puts them at higher risk of alcohol and drug abuse. Due to their inability to find steady work, rate of recidivism is high.
Thankfully, there is hope. Some companies are giving felons a second chance by either hiring them or assisting them in obtaining employment.
Less than a week after news broke that Apple barred construction workers with felony conviction records from its new $5 billion Cupertino campus, the tech giant rescinded its policy on April 9, 2015. In a statement lifting the restriction, Apple acknowledged that the background process “may have excluded some people who deserve a second chance”.
Felons are welcome to apply at Ace Hardware Corporation, one of the nation’s leading retailer owned cooperatives with more than 4,500 domestic and international stores and 14 US distribution centers.
Homeboy Industries is a passion project of an L.A. priest – Father Gregory Boyle, who has brought life reboots to hundreds of ex-convicts, including onetime gang members. For a quarter of a century, Boyle has steered men and women out of the gang life through Homeboy Industries, which offers job training, counseling, tattoo removal and much more. The model Boyle built has been replicated around the country and abroad.
Cascade Engineering ‘understands and confronts barriers that may prevent qualified candidates for employment from successful careers – a criminal record is one such barrier that often prevents individuals from opportunities in employment regardless of their efforts and/or ability’. A felony conviction, misdemeanors or an arrest record is not an absolute bar to employment at Cascade Engineering; all qualified candidates are considered for employment regardless of their criminal record. Each candidate’s employment application is reviewed and a decision is based on the specific merits of each individual case in relation to the position for which they applied.
“We have been hiring returning citizens for several years. We have found that these employees genuinely appreciate the opportunity to participate in the workforce and often end up being some of the most productive members of our team. Sustainable employment for people coming out of the prison system is critically important. We can demonstrate some economic value in hiring this population. I don’t think that story is told very often and it should be. What you always hear is the risk,” Butterball Farms CEO Mark Peters told MLive.com in 2012.
The company has hired 68 employees with felony records since 2013, which is almost 40% of all employees hired in that period. “They appreciate the opportunity more than other employees. We’ve found that some returning citizens are our best employees,” Bonnie Mroczek, vice president of human resources, recently said.
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