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How Hiring Formerly Incarcerated People Can Give Your Business an Edge

Thursday, January 11, 2018

From higher retention rates to increased loyalty. These are just a few of the strong reasons to hire from the pool of the formerly incarcerated.

Tired of utilizing the same old business strategies only to get the same old results? It may be time to try something new.

Research confirms that hiring formerly incarcerated people is simply smart business. As a recent ACLU report indicates, "retention rates are higher, turnover is lower, and employees with criminal records are more loyal." As turnover and recruitment costs remain hefty, better retention rates can significantly reduce an employer's costs for recruitment and training for lower-skilled, white-collar workers -- costs that analysts estimate are close to $4,000 per employee.

Hiring formerly incarcerated individuals also relieves the strain on state and local budgets, as well as the burden placed on the taxpayer. Stable employment, which reduces re-arrests and re-incarceration, keeps prison costs down -- one Philadelphia study conducted concluded that employing even just 100 more formerly incarcerated individuals would lead to a $2 million reduction in the city's correctional costs. And get this: according to Pew Research Center, if states could lower recidivism rates by 10% then states could save an average of $635 million annually.

Hiring formerly incarcerated individuals not only keeps costs down and boosts the economy, but doing so makes a marked positive difference for communities and these individuals themselves. As public safety increases with the lowering of crime rates, the stigma associated with a criminal record proves to be less and less believable. As Luis Brown-Peña, an administrative supervisor for the Minnesota Department of Employment and Economic Development, says, "The characteristic of job loyalty and company dedication by [formerly incarcerated] workers is repeatedly noted to us by employers."

To learn more about the unheard success stories of the formerly incarcerated population, watch the documentary trailer for FITE Film - From Incarceration to Education below (note: my daughter Skylar was executive producer and co-director). FITE delves into the lives of four formerly incarcerated students at UC Berkeley and their journeys to higher education. Created by a team of young filmmakers, FITE works to motivate, inspire, and empower currently and formerly incarcerated people. Alongside the film, the team is creating an online database of regional and national resources and programs to assist incarcerated individuals upon release and societal re-entry.

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