There are approximately 12 million people in the U.S. with a felony conviction.
Each year 650,000 inmates are released from prison. A study showed that fewer than 45% were employed after eight months.
Estimates indicate that the unemployment rate among offenders is 25-40%.
These figures show the challenge felons face moving forward.
There are employers willing to hire felons, but not all will.
This blog post will examine the issue of the pros and cons of hiring felons.
- To Hire or Not to Hire
- Pros of Hiring felons
- Cons of Hiring Felons
- Encouraging Companies to Hire Felons
- Supporting a Felon in Getting Hired
To Hire or Not to Hire
The decision whether to hire felons or not is not an easy one. Employers are faced with the need to fill their jobs with qualified employees to keep their company operating.
Typically, employers don’t just automatically refuse to hire felons. Just because an applicant is a felon is not justification not to hire them, that’s discrimination and shouldn’t ever happen. Though, after year of experience in this field, we are confident it happens at times and is not documented.
Anyway…the process of dealing with the hiring of felons question is complicated.
There are both pros and cons of hiring felons. We’ll discuss those below.
Pros of Hiring Felons
There are many compelling reasons for companies to hire felons.
Are felons good workers?
They have been gone for a number of years since it was a felony conviction with a lengthy prison sentence.
This has given them the chance to reflect on the years they have spent incarcerated and how much of their lives they have wasted because of their crime. They are ready to put the past behind them and begin an honest life in society.
For many, they are grateful to those willing to give them a chance. They are motivated to succeed and just need the opportunity to show their gratitude.
Years of incarceration has made them punctual due to the rigid schedule to which they have had to adhere. They are accustomed to hard work and prepared to perform on a job.
Also, many are on probation and have to be accountable to their Probation Officer for finding and holding a job.
As felons, they realize that losing their job will result in facing further difficulties in locating another one.
Felons are not as dangerous or untrustworthy as the stereotype suggests.
Employers get a tax credit.
For employers there is the benefit of a tax credit for hiring felons.
Though the pay is typically the same as a regular worker, companies get a significant credit from the government for hiring felons.
The company will be looked at as favorable (in most cases).
In most cases, a company that publicizes the fact that they hire those who have been formerly incarcerated receives positive press. Here’s an example of that from Dave’s Killer Bread. In most cases this will be a positive, but sometimes companies that have employees who commonly interact with the public can get a negative reaction. So, it’s reasonable to consider this on a case-by-case basis.
Cons of Hiring Felons
Many employers won’t hire felons, believing they are dishonest and likely to commit a crime on the job. Or employers fear the public finding out they hire felons, damaging the company’s reputation and losing business.
Another reason is to protect their company. If they hire a felon who causes problems on the job, it could be viewed as negligent hiring. This might allow safety factors at work to place the business at risk and jeopardize their standing with the public.
Another issue is the stereotype: once a felon always a felon. These employers believe that a felon can’t change and will always resort back to crime at some point.
Some believe that no matter what, felons lie and are untrustworthy, and nothing will change that.
Others state that all felons are dangerous whether theirs was a violent felony or not.
There is potential for crime in the workplace. Hiring felons could increase the potential risk of crime at work because not all felons are motivated to live an honest life and maintain a job.
As many as 75% of hiring managers state that a non-violent felony would weigh heavily in their hiring decision. For a violent felony, 100% said that would significantly affect their decision to hire.
Another reason often given by employers is how other employees might react to working with a felon. The question is whether they have the right to know if there is a felon employed there vs. the felon’s right to let their conviction stay in the past.
Additionally, felons’ skills may not have the same skills as those who haven’t spent a lengthy time in prison. This could mean special training for them that takes time and can be expensive.
That all said, hiring anyone is a risk. It doesn’t matter whether or not they are a felon, it’s always a gamble when a company hires a new employee.
Encouraging Employers to Hire Felons
After examining the reasons stated above and considering what is best for their company, there are many strong reasons on the side of hiring felons.
Of course, not all felons are qualified to be hired, and some will fall into the category of not being desirable employees.
But not hiring them as a rule will cause employers to miss many applicants that are in a position of making a positive impact on their business.
Hiring them not only benefits the company, it also helps those who have made mistakes in their lives and are genuinely invested in starting and maintaining an honest life.
They are sincere in giving back to those that provide them with that opportunity.
Remember the strong reasons for hiring felons. How many quality employees are employers missing by not hiring felons?
How many chances to strengthen their company with qualified, motivated employees are they missing?
It only makes sense to give consideration and an opportunity to those felons who are qualified for that job.
The available tax credit for hiring them is also a nice bonus.
Need for Honesty
It is essential for felons to recall that in spite of the many reasons for companies not to hire them, not all employers will turn them down.
Regardless of their felony history, it is important for felons to be honest in disclosing any conviction. If they are not and the background check reveals a felony, their chances for employment are gone.
Disclosing felony convictions provides felon the opportunity to explain their situation and describe the circumstances of their crime.
Depending on the nature of the crime and length of time since the conviction, felons have the opportunity to present their case.
They can be in the group that employers are persuaded by the pros in hiring.
Supporting a Felon in Getting Hired
For families of felons who have a felony, encourage them to be honest and ready to answer any questions about their offense.
Being prepared for these types of issues when applying for a job and having a background check can prevent problems later on.
Be there for them and be honest with them in this situation. Help them tell the truth and give themselves the best opportunity for success in their new life.
Don’t let them fall into the category of those that no company will hire. Help them recall the many positive reasons employers have for giving them a job.
After all, honesty is the best policy for all concerned.
So what do you think about this blog post about the pros and cons of hiring a felon? Have you or someone you know looking for a job with a felony? What was that like and were they hired? Please tell us in the comments below.