A Potential Solution To Crime And Poverty: Hiring More Criminals

by Aakash Kumar | Via Forbes.com

The last section of this multi-part series covers the impact of a criminal record on nearly 65 million Americans’ ability to find work and how a prior background becomes a one-way ticket to poverty and ongoing criminal behavior. (See the first and second installments in this series).

The Sentencing Project provides color on how crime impacts employability, positing that 60% of individuals are unemployed within one year of release from prison, and those who do find jobs take home 40% less in annual pay.

This statistic is rather stunning, especially when taken in conjunction with the results of a study conducted by the Redemption Bridge, a nonprofit organization focused on the retraining and hiring of ex-convicts. Their results, focused on a prison in Tarrant County, Texas, found a high degree of recidivism among inmates where 66% of released convicts were arrested again within three years. However, released prisoners that found employment were 10 times less likely to be rearrested. Employment was the key driver in stopping former convicts from committing another crime and being rearrested.

So, what’s the problem?

The root cause starts at the job application level. Employers often screen for criminal records when hiring – 55% ask about criminal history at some point during the interview process, with only 10% of employers waiting until after making an offer to ask. Many immediately reject applicants with a history as soon as they check a box indicating a prior background. Applicants have little opportunity to explain the degree of their criminality, leaving no ability for the employer to differentiate between a misdemeanor and a violent crime. This creates an uphill battle to find employment after being released from prison and often leads back to a life of poverty and crime.

Read original article on Forbes.com

So, what’s the problem?