by Denise Felder
Ex-offenders are people who have made serious mistakes, have gone to prison, and paid their debt to society. Now they are ready to start fresh. Finding a job is an important part of that new beginning. Hiring an ex-offender also has benefits for employers.
The Odds of Re-offending
Did you know that a report from the U.S. Department of Labor (.pdf) says that employed ex-offenders are three times less likely to commit another crime than unemployedex-offenders? Consider this:
- The National Institute of Corrections reports that 83 percent of offenders who violated probation or parole in New York State were unemployed at the time of violation.
- A study by the Texas Department of Corrections found that 74 percent of the people released from Texas prisons listed finding a job as their number one post-release problem.
The tie between employment and an ex-offender’s successful reentry into society are the same across the country, including in Minnesota. Employment is an important part of helping reformed offenders restart their lives. Securing a job affects a person’s:
- housing situation
- self-esteem and self-image
- social life
- ties to the community
The more positive factors, like employment, that an ex-offender has, the less likely he or she is to return to the negative influences that lead to the criminal behavior.
Benefits for Employers
In addition to contributing to their communities, employers who hire people with felony convictions can benefit financially. The Work Opportunity Tax Credit (WOTC) allows eligible Minnesota employers to reduce their federal tax liability by up to $9,000 per new hire. The tax credit applies to temporary, seasonal, or part-time and full-time workers.
Plus, if you hire an ex-offenders or other “risky” hire, you can apply for the Minnesota Federal Bonding Service, which protects employers against employee theft. Bonding covers new and current employees, and employers pay no fees for the service. The amount of insurance is usually issued at $5,000 and lasts for six months. According to the Minnesota Department of Employment and Economic Development (DEED), more than 40,000 bonds have been issued nationally, but only about one percent of those bonds have had claims filed against them.
A Second Chance
Finding a job helps ex-offenders to put their reformed attitudes and behaviors to good use to become productive members of society.
- For resources to help an ex-offender with job searching, check out ISEEK’s Employment Resources for Ex-Offenders section.
- DEED offers “New Leaf” workshops for ex-offender job seekers and anyone with a criminal record across the state. Search their listing of WorkForce Center workshops for upcoming New Leaf sessions, or call a local WorkForce Center for a schedule.