Three myths about hiring previously incarcerated people

It’s no secret that people who have been to prison have a stigma that follows them. People make snap judgments – inaccurately and unfairly assuming that anyone with a criminal record is a bad person. This is especially true for companies who are looking to hire new employees. Past involvement with the criminal justice system immediately excludes candidates from many career opportunities. However, many people who leave prison are talented, educated workers. With a steady job and reliable income, former inmates are much less likely to return to prison. We’re breaking down stereotypes by addressing three myths about hiring previously incarcerated people in hopes that hiring managers will reconsider their stance on hiring people with an incarceration record.

Previously incarcerated people are not trustworthy employees.

One of the biggest misconceptions about people who went to prison is that they’re not trustworthy. This can be incredibly harmful for someone looking to turn their life around and start fresh. According to an article by the Pacific Reentry Career Services, The University of Massachusetts at Amherst and Harvard University did a study on previous inmates who were enlisted into the military. The study showed that people with or without a criminal record were just as likely to be terminated for bad behavior. In fact, those with previous criminal offenses were promoted faster than those without one. While a criminal past can be a red flag for some employers, for most career paths, it should not be an immediate rejection. Employers should look at the whole candidate, accounting for previous work experience, skills and education.

Previously incarcerated people will return to criminal behavior.

Another fear that many employers have is that people who were previously incarcerated will return to criminal behavior. However, according to an article by the Kellogg School of Management at Northwestern University, it’s actually the opposite for people who obtain work post-release. People who have been to prison and get a job upon release have a better chance of successfully reintegrating into society.

A steady job with reliable income gives people a sense of pride and a new outlet in which to invest their time and energy. Earning a living wage often ensures that people don’t have to turn to crime to pay their bills or feed their family. Plus, those with a criminal past who are given a job are much less likely to quit, building workplace morale and saving the company from paying employee turnover costs. It’s a win-win!

If I hire previously incarcerated people, I’m potentially funding criminal activity in my community.

A common misconception about people with a criminal history is that their income will be used for future criminal activity. Many people recently released from prison are just looking for a chance to turn their life around. A steady and reliable paycheck can be the difference between a new life or returning to jail. According to PassForward, an organization in Maryland that helps formerly incarcerated people find jobs, people who have recently been released from prison are more motivated and grateful for the chance to prove themselves. This kind of attitude is great for both employers and employees alike.

Overall, those who were previously incarcerated face challenges, but finding a steady job shouldn’t be one of them. That’s why Hope 2 Hire provides holistic personal support and technical job training for inmates in Shelby County. We believe that people deserve a second chance and that our communities are strengthened when we invest in each other. For more information, check out our website at

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