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Elain Ellerbe | August 10, 2017
According to the Bureau of Justice statistics, approximately one in three adults in the US have a criminal record, and men with criminal records account for about 34 percent of all nonworking men ages 25 to 54. There is a total estimated loss to the national economy of $78 to $87 billion every year as a result of people with criminal records being unemployed or underemployed.
With the push for criminal justice reform in the states, policymakers across the political spectrum are recognizing the scope and importance of this issue, and employment has been identified as a key reentry issue that must be addressed to reduce recidivism and improve public safety. Federal funded reentry program statistics indicate that those offenders obtaining employment soon after release are far less likely to recidivate.
To that end, Right on Crime is embarking on the development and dissemination of a handbook for employers on hiring individuals with criminal histories. The “primer” will include sections on why it is important to provide employment opportunities to individuals with criminal backgrounds and what to expect when employing returning citizens.
I will be heading up the effort and have received commitments to collaborate on the project with Right on Crime from the Louisiana Association of Business and Industry, a 3,300 member association of businesses and industry, the state’s department of labor, Louisiana Workforce Commission, and the Louisiana Department of Corrections.
With the benefit of my experience in prison reentry work prior to joining Right on Crime and knowing the stories of a number of successful returned citizens, their first hand experiences in obtaining employment will also serve to inform the content of the employer handbook.
The finished product should be available by September 2017.