Adjusting hiring processes to include people with a history of justice involvement

After release, former inmates begin the task of reentering society with the ultimate goal of not returning to prison. There are a number of factors that contribute to a person’s reentry success, one of those being securing a meaningful job. But, finding a place to work that pays a wage that can provide safe housing, food and transportation can be difficult

A number of companies and industries are expanding their hiring practices to include justice-involved people. If you want to be one of them, here are a few ways to adjust your practices:

When people self-report justice history, have an open conversation.

The U.S. Equal Opportunity Employment Commission has great recommendations for employers to use when hiring people with a history of incarceration. Rather than eliminating people on the basis of having been incarcerated alone, they recommend you consider your industry and what crimes might preclude a person from being a good fit for your company. Then, when people report on their application that they have previously been convicted of a crime, you can have a fair conversation about their history and the person they are today. This might open your eyes to candidates who are working hard to make a new life for themselves and could be great employees! When the Army did this, they found that enlistees with felonies were more likely to be promoted than those without.

Use background checks as a baseline.

Background checks are a helpful tool to provide unfiltered information about a person’s past. When used as a tool to verify self-reported information and to create conversations with candidates, they can be a reassuring resource. But, be cautious with their use and only rely upon reputable vendors to provide background check information. Some online retailers can provide information that is outdated, inaccurate or incomplete – and you don’t want to base your hiring decisions on this type of material.

Invest in tools that help protect your business and keep people on track

If you’re nervous about hiring people with a history of justice involvement, we encourage you to partner with organizations and vendors to create the best opportunities for success. Joining forces with organizations that support people coming out of prison can provide access to personal and workforce development courses and mentorship relationships – both of which can help your new employees stay on the right track. In Memphis, HopeWorks is a great option. It might also provide you peace of mind and create an accountability structure for your employee to partner with a drug screening organization in your community. Knowing that meaningful employment depends upon them staying clean could provide motivation to keep making positive choices while promoting a safe and healthy workforce at your company.

Ultimately, hiring people with a history of justice involvement requires employers to adjust their practices and thinking. But at Hope2Hire, we believe that providing opportunities for second chances is worth the effort. If you want to learn more about the technical career training that is happening in Shelby County Division of Corrections, connect with us today.

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