In the United States of America, there is a growing shift towards offering work and job opportunities to felons who have paid their sentence.
Many of these employers who hire felons have signed onto the Fair Chance Pledge, which aims to offer Americans with prior criminal records and convictions a fair chance at employment.
In America, nearly 73.5 million individuals have a criminal record.
That is 29.5% of the entire population.
While we are not going to discuss criminal reforms needed in the justice system, we will discuss the need to offer a second chance to those individuals and the employers who hire felons and others convicted of crimes.
A felony charge can disqualify an individual from many rights and liberties guaranteed in the constitution.
Chief amongst those disqualifications is disenfranchisement or the loss of voting ability.
But in addition, felons can be excluded from obtaining certain licenses and visas, are ineligible to serve on a jury, and are excluded from purchasing firearms and ammunition.
However, some felons are also ineligible to qualify or apply for government assistance or welfare.
With the difficulty many felons find in reintegrating with society after their debts have been paid, the problem can be compounded by their inability to receive welfare and government aid.
As President Obama remarked, “around 70 million Americans have some sort of criminal record … Now, a lot of time, that record disqualifies you from being a full participant in our society — even if you’ve already paid your debt to society.
It means millions of Americans have difficulty even getting their foot in the door to try to get a job much less actually hang on to that job.
That’s bad for not only those individuals, it’s bad for our economy.
It’s bad for the communities that desperately need more role models who are gainfully employed.
So, we’ve got to make sure Americans who’ve paid their debt to society can earn their second chance.”
Fair Chance Pledge
The Fair Chance Business Pledge looks to have businesses take a pledge and a commitment towards providing an opportunity for all individuals, regardless of previous criminal record.
The pledge urges businesses simply promote a fair and equitable hiring process.
This includes a “ban the box”, training of human resources and hiring managers to make fair applicant decisions, allowing for job training and internships to all individuals, utilizing background check providers which are correct, and a push to host job fairs to allow for individuals with previous convictions to apply to these opportunities in person.
Additional Government Programs
In addition, the federal government has enacted two major programs to assist ex-offenders and felons land a job after their incarceration.
These programs look to benefit and guarantee certain items to employers, in-return for hiring ex-offenders.
Work Opportunity Tax Credit
The first is the Work Opportunity Tax Credit or WOTC.
This program encourages employers to hire individuals from the below targeted group:
- Qualified IV-A Recipient
- This is an individual who is part of a family that receives assistance under a state plan.
- Qualified Veteran
- A qualified veteran is someone who is:
- Member of a family receiving assistance under Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) for a minimum of three months during their initial 15 months of employment
- Unemployed for 4 weeks but less than 6 months in a 1-year period ending on the hiring date
- A disabled veteran entitled to compensation
- A person hired within a year of being convicted or being released from prison
- Designated Community Resident (DCR)
- Is at least 18 years old and under 40 who resides in an empowerment zone or an enterprise community or a renewal community and continues to reside there after receiving employment
- Vocational Rehabilitation Referral
- A person who has a physical or mental disability
- Summer Youth Employee
- An individual between 16-18 who is employed between May 1st and September 15th and resides in an empowerment zone or an enterprise community or a renewal community
- Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program Recipient
- An individual over 18 but under 40 who receives SNAP benefits for the previous 6 months or 3 of the previous 5 months
- Supplemental Security Income Recipient
- A person who received SSI benefits within 60 days of hire
- Long-Term Family Assistance Recipient
- Qualified Long-Term Unemployment Recipient
- An individual who has been unemployed for at least 27 consecutive weeks at the time of hire
- A qualified veteran is someone who is:
An employer MUST confirm that the individual is a member of the targeted group before claiming the federal credit.
Federal Bonding Program
Secondly, in 1966 the U.S. Department of Labor has enacted The Federal Bonding Program that aims to guarantee honesty for job seekers whom are considered “at-risk.”
These job seekers may find difficulty in securing a job position but can be federally bonded to ensure that no theft, fraud, or loss of valuables will be lost.
This program covers employers for the first six-months at no additional cost.
Employers Who Hire Felons
With the growing awareness surrounding the hardships faced in securing employment, many companies are beginning to push for the Fair Chance Pledge.
Though each person and individuals’ case is different, below is a list of companies who have either signed the pledge or are known to be open to hiring ex-offenders.
Any employer with an asterisk after their name indicates that they have signed the pledge.
1-800-Flowers.com*, Carle Place, NY
21st Century Telecommunications LLC*
Advantage Pool Management Services, Inc. Atlanta, GA
Aesthetics On The Glow*
Aids Healthcare Foundation*, Los Angeles, CA
Al Abbas Cookies*, Dearborn, MI
Alamo Draft House, Austin, TX*
ALB3 Consulting Research & Management*
Allegra Marketing & Print* Marmora, NJ
America West Air
American Heart Association, Dallas, TX *
Andrews Funeral Home*
A One Contracting & Supply
Approved Storage and Waste Handling, Inc.*
Arthrex*, Naples, FL
Asian Media Access*
Associated Students Inc., San Francisco State University – Project Rebound*
Atlantic Parking Washington, D.C. (DMV)
Atlas Van Lines
Behavioral Health Works* Anaheim, CA
The Blanch Law Firm, NYC
Camp Bow-Wow*, Westminster, CO
Carahsoft, Reston, VA*
Feeler Tree Service (Belle, MO)
First Step Staffing Atlanta, GA | Phila., PA | Nasville, TN | Duluth, MN
Gedney Pickle, Chaska, MN
Gusto*, San Francisco, CA
Hager Construction Co. (Jacksonville, FL)
Haralambos Beverage Company, Industry, CA
Homeboy Industries (Los Angeles)
King’s International Staffing, Phoenix, AZ
The Lancatser Food Co.
Lawn Life, Columbus, OH
Miami Valley Gaming (OH)
N2 Publishing, Wilmington, NC*
Newport Group*, Walnut Creek, CA
New Relic, San Fransisco, CA*
Ninth St. Bakery, Durham, NC
Power Home Remodeling*, Chester, PA
Premium Retail Services, Chesterfield, MO*
Prideline Buses, Birmingham, AL
Quality Ingredients Corporation, Burnsville, MN
Set and Service Resources*, Raleigh, NC
Skyline Design, Chicago, IL
STS Transportation, Birmingham, AL
TDS Telecommunications*, Madison, WI
Tijuana Flats*, Maitland, FL
Titan Staffing Inc. (Murfreesboro, TN)
Touchstone Hospitality LLC – Columbus, OH
Vehicles for Change Auto Service Center, Halethorpe, MD
Xylem, Rye Brook, NY*
Year Up, Boston, MA*