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Elain Ellerbe | September 12, 2018
With the completion of the Louisiana-centric Employer Handbook, Right on Crime will embark on a series of regional Employer Summits in the Fall to educate and inform employers across the state on hiring an individual with a criminal background and how it will benefit their businesses. The continued workforce shortage that is present not only in Louisiana, but nationwide, lends itself to employers as reason to strongly consider seeking employees outside of the normal–presently limited–hiring pool. With the continued implementation of criminal justice reforms that are producing very positive results to date, the next step is to bring the business community into the process to allow those returning from prison to apply to jobs that are ready and available.
In a recent article found in the EHS Today, Vikrant Reddy of the Koch Institute states, “The key to reducing recidivism and improving public safety is finding employment for people. If individuals with a criminal record can be considered for employment based on their talent and skills, the benefits for the business—for society—are far reaching.” New research from the Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM) and the Koch Institute found that a majority of workers in all roles said they were willing to hire and work with those who have a criminal record. With employers facing recruiting challenges not seen in almost two decades identifying this potential pool of untapped workers is of great benefit to bottom lines for businesses and the overall economy.
Obtaining employment after release is a primary driver in lowering incidences of future criminal activity, which translates to lower crime in our communities. Criminal justice reforms have allowed Louisiana to move away from the “lock em’ up and throw away the key” mindset to an evidence-based, data-driven rehabilitative model that ensures public safety, saves taxpayer dollars and restores lives for individuals and families impacted by the criminal justice system. It will also allow more money to be invested in workforce development for individuals in prison, bringing more skilled labor to Louisiana.
Johnny C. Taylor, Jr., president of SHRM states, “It’s time to put an end to the stigma that holds back inclusive hiring and retire outdated employment practices. With unemployment falling below 4 percent, employers must think differently about both the jobs and the people who fill them. A criminal record should never be viewed as an automatic disqualification for employment.”
Right on Crime’s fundamental intent in developing the Employer Handbook and sharing it with employers through our Employer Summits is to assist employers in making informed hiring decisions when considering individuals with criminal backgrounds. By doing so, businesses, individuals returning from prison, and their families, will all have greater opportunity to flourish.