Finding A Job After You’ve Been Released From Prison

Finding employment after serving time in prison can be a daunting task for ex-offenders. Many companies may hesitate to hire someone with a criminal record, but it is essential for individuals to rebuild their lives and contribute to society. A number of businesses recognize the importance of giving a second chance to those who have completed their sentence, understanding that rehabilitation is an ongoing process.

Having a stable job is not only typically a condition of your release, but it significantly reduces the likelihood of reoffending, as ex-prisoners can focus on improving their lives and proving the value of their skills. While not every company is willing to employ ex-convicts, more and more businesses across the country are changing their stance on hiring ex-offenders, offering them the support they need to reintegrate into society.

Job interview

The Importance of Employment for Ex-Prisoners

One of the most significant impacts of gainful employment for ex-prisoners is the reduction of the cycle of recidivism. Studies show that about 60% of those leaving prison remain unemployed a year later, increasing the likelihood of reoffending.

In most cases, the business owners can also see benefits such as:

  • Loyal employees: Former prisoners often value stable employment and are less likely to change jobs frequently.
  • A diverse workforce: Hiring ex-offenders can contribute to workplace diversity and enhance your company's social image.

Why More Employers Are Hiring Ex-Convicts

While a criminal record can make it very difficult to find a job, a growing number of businesses, both large and small, are willing to take a chance on former prisoners who have paid their debt to society. There are a number of public and private programs that have been created to help facilitate this.

Work Opportunity Tax Credit

The Work Opportunity Tax Credit (WOTC) is a program aimed at encouraging employers to hire individuals from certain targeted groups, including ex-prisoners, who face significant barriers to employment. By hiring eligible individuals, you can receive a tax credit that reduces the federal income tax you owe.

Here is a brief overview of how the WOTC works:

  • The tax credit is based on the number of hours worked by the eligible employee and their wages
  • Employers can claim a credit of up to 40% of the first $6,000 in wages for each qualified ex-prisoner they hire
  • The employee must work at least 120 hours in the first year of employment for you to qualify for the credit
  • You must apply for the credit by filing Form 8850 with your state's workforce agency

This tax credit incentivizes employers to give ex-prisoners a chance at rebuilding their lives and finding stable employment.

Re-entry Programs and Initiatives

In addition to the WOTC, various re-entry programs and initiatives are available to help ex-prisoners reintegrate into the workforce. These programs offer support such as job training, mentoring, and resources for finding employment.

Examples of re-entry programs include:

  • Hope for Prisoners: A program that provides job training and mentorship to help ex-prisoners secure stable employment. According to a study by the University of Nevada—Las Vegas, 64% of program participants found stable employment between January 2014 and June 2015.
  • Prison Fellowship: This organization supports employers in hiring ex-prisoners by providing guidance and resources on how to approach the hiring process fairly and without prejudice.

Sector-Specific Opportunities for Ex-Prisoners

While certain industries may exclude you due to your conviction, there are also a number of industries and sectors where ex-convicts will have an easier time finding employment.

Construction and Trades

The construction and trades sector offers promising opportunities for ex-prisoners seeking employment. Your skills and work ethic often matter more than your past offenses in this industry.

Construction companies and trade organizations, such as carpentry or plumbing, value hard-working individuals eager to learn and demonstrate commitment to the job. You may also consider exploring apprenticeship programs, where you can gain practical experience and training on the job. Remember to be upfront about your background with potential employers, as demonstrating honesty is important in building trust.

Trucking and Logistics

Trucking and logistics are other sectors with ample job opportunities for ex-convicts. As a truck driver, your main responsibility would involve transporting goods across different locations, ensuring timely and safe delivery.

Numerous trucking companies are willing to give ex-prisoners a chance, as there is a high demand for drivers in the industry. However, you must obtain a Commercial Driver's License (CDL) before being considered for a job in this sector. Look for CDL training programs in your area, and as with any job opportunity, be honest about your past during the application process.

Manufacturing and Production

Ex-prisoners can also find employment opportunities in the manufacturing and production sectors. Companies in this industry often value practical skills and hands-on experience. Job opportunities can range from entry-level assembly line positions to highly skilled technician roles. Here are some positions you can explore:

  • Assembly line worker
  • Machine Operator
  • Quality control technician
  • Maintenance Technician

You can enhance your employability by enrolling in vocational training programs or obtaining certifications in specific skills, such as machine operation or maintenance. By showcasing your dedication to personal development and emphasizing your problem-solving abilities, you may increase your chances of securing a job in manufacturing and production. As always, be transparent about your background with potential employers.

Companies with Open-Door Policies

Several major companies have recognized the value of providing second chances to ex-prisoners. They maintain open-door policies that you may find beneficial when seeking employment. Some of these employers include:

  • Google: This tech giant is known for its progressive culture and has initiated programs to hire ex-prisoners and promote valuable skills and growth.
  • American Airlines: They offer opportunities to ex-prisoners and support them in climbing the corporate ladder through various career paths.
  • Gap: This famous clothing retailer believes in giving everyone equal opportunities, and their open-door policy explicitly includes ex-prisoners.
  • ARCO: As an esteemed gas station and convenience store chain, ARCO hires ex-prisoners, including cashiers and assistant managers, to fill a variety of positions.

You can explore these companies' career opportunities on their websites and job portals.

Small Businesses and Local Opportunities

In addition to large corporations, numerous small businesses and local employers are also extending opportunities to ex-prisoners. Some of these businesses are owned or managed by individuals who understand the challenges of reintegrating into society after serving time.

For example, a former prisoner, Ed Hennings, started a trucking company in Milwaukee and has since hired at least 20 formerly incarcerated men. Many restaurants and food establishments, such as McDonald's, also adopt a non-discriminatory approach when hiring, making them an option for ex-prisoners seeking employment.

Starting Your New Life As A Former Prisoner Is About Finding A Community

We understand how tough it can be to start your new life after being released from prison. At the Weinstein Legal Team, we believe that The Law of WE is more than a concept; it’s a commitment to our community that doesn’t just stop once your case is over.

If you are a South Florida resident who has recently been released from incarceration, please browse our community page to learn more about the resources, events, and opportunities we are currently involved in in our local community.

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