Stable employment is a crime-fighting tool that leads to a healthier economy and safer public.
Yet 65 million American adults — that’s 1 in 4 — have a criminal record that all too often prevents them from finding stable, sustainable employment.
What Can You Do To Help?
- Advocate for Fair Chance Hiring Policies in your city, county, and state. Organize a task force or work group to work for fair chance hiring policies in your community. Find the groups or organizations already working toward these goals, or at least those who understand the need as they often work with people with criminal records.
- If you are an employer or human resources manager or have any ability whatsoever to influence the hiring process at your place of employment, begin a conversation about how your business or non-profit can begin to implement a Fair Chance Hiring Policy and Process. See below for some best practices to start with.
- Write letters of endorsement, support, and advocacy to your local newspapers, share stories on your Facebook page and blogs, and tweet some statistics about the enormous barriers people with criminal records face in finding and securing stable employment. Help spread the word.
- Discuss these issues with your family and friends, in your churches and social groups, in a way that leads to action.
- Share your ideas and experiences about what works to increase employment opportunities and reduce discrimination against people with criminal records.
- Be a friend to someone with a criminal record. Find a way to put yourself close to the situation. Understand the struggle as you make yourself proximate to those in need. A significant way to do this is to volunteer with local organizations that have regular contact with folks with criminal records looking for jobs. Here in Waco, Texas, some that come to mind (and not all by any means so forgive me if I leave you out!) include: Cornerstone Assistance Network, McLennan County Reintegration Roundtable, Salvation Army, Mission Waco, Christian Men’s Job Corps, Christian Women’s Job Corps, Goodwill Industries, and so many more.
- Listen. Listen. Listen. To those who struggle. To the despised ones. To the ones who know what it is really like and who will help adopt policies that will truly work.
- Be creative. Be hopeful. Be compassionate.
And there is so much more that can be done.
I have every confidence that if we care, we listen, and we respond compassionately, we will undoubtedly find ways to do something about this vexing issue that is real and lasting and transformational for all of us.
Best Practices to Maximize Public Safety and Economic Stability
More resources for advocacy and policy implementation:
Ban the Box Campaign Tool Kit — a wealth of resources and experience from Legal Services for Prisoners with Children and All of Us or None
Let’s get to work so ALL of us have a fair chance to work!