April was Second Chance Month, an observance formalized by President Biden in March 2022 “reaffirming the importance of helping people who were formerly incarcerated reenter society.”
According to the U.S. Chamber of Commerce there are 600,000 people released from prison every year in the United States. For many, a return to society is coupled with an inability to find work—or employers willing to give them a second chance. There are, in fact, 77 million Americans with a criminal record—about 25% of those with convictions do not serve a prison sentence.
A disproportionate number of those with criminal records are people of color with Black men six times more likely than white men to be incarcerated and Hispanic men 2.5 times more likely, according to The Sentencing Project.
While the number of companies willing to take a chance on an employee with a criminal record was already becoming common prior to the pandemic today, given the tight labor economy, more employers are considering this option. There simply aren’t enough people available to fill available jobs. According to the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, there are 11.5 million open jobs in the U.S., with only about 6 million unemployed workers to fill those jobs.
Companies that have taken the Fair Chance Pledge agree to:
The list of companies that have taken this pledge is impressive. In 2016 when the Obama Administration brought the issue to light, 19 well-known companies took the pledge including Coca-Cola, Facebook, Google, The Johns Hopkins Hospital and Health System, Under Armour/Plant Industries, and others. These are companies that span geographies and industries.
Employees obviously benefit from second chance employment opportunities. But companies do too. According to Getting Talent Back to Work, “82% of managers and 67% of HR professionals think the value new employees with criminal records bring to the organization is as high as or higher than that of workers without records. Some of the benefits employers realize include:
Low-skilled workers are more likely to have criminal records according to The Hamilton Project. They point out that: “Less than 2 percent of men aged 28 to 33 with at least a four-year college degree report having been incarcerated at some point.”
This population offers great potential benefit to manufacturers and other types of businesses offering blue-collar opportunities that don’t require a formal degree.
Georgia, Kentucky, and Tennessee are among the states that have taken steps to ban the box on applications in their states. These efforts make a difference—for the individuals given a second chance, the companies that hire them, and the communities they live in.
For instance, one of Gojob’s community partners is the Nashville Rescue Mission to help them find staff members, specifically those seeking second chance employment. The Nashville Rescue Mission was founded in 1953 by Dr. Charles Fuller, a well-known Gospel radio preacher; it opened its doors in 1954 and, today, continues to serve area homeless men, women, and children.
Bobby P. is a case manager at the Nashville Rescue Mission who works with Gojob. He says: “Gojob has really changed things for my guys. These men have experienced a previous agency that came in and worked with them and did not want to pay them for their time.”
Societal impact is at the heart of Gojob’s work. Gojob is committed to the recruitment and training of people who are far from employment. That includes employees with criminal histories. Everyone deserves a second chance and we’re helping them get just that. Learn more about our work and how we’re using advanced digital technology to connect individuals and organizations in Georgia, Kentucky, and Tennessee.