Rethinking the Background Check: Looking at the Whole Person When Hiring
From The ODA Blog
Tags: baltimore, exoffenders, incarceration, jobs, poverty
Recent job application experiments find that applicants with criminal records were 50 percent less likely to receive an interview request or job offer relative to identical applicants with no criminal record." The White House, April 2016
The U.S. prisoner population has grown by a staggering 350% since 1980. Few sectors of American life have grown as exponentially since the end of the Cold War. We now lead the world in people behind bars. What gets lost in the shuffle is that 95% of today's 2.2 million prisoners are eventually returning to America's streets and communities. When they do, all of us are impacted. Upon their release to our streets and communities, formerly abstract concepts like "prison reform" and "living-wage employment" suddenly become palpable.
Because 65% of returning offenders have not finished high school and 14% have less than an 8th-grade education, most struggle financially. This in turn triggers an endless array of personal, family, and social problems for which America keeps picking up the tab. All of us are impacted by our collective decision to live with the status quo:
- Overwhelmingly, America's former prisoners return home to little tangible support. On average, 590,000 inmates are released from state and federal prisons each year. Studies show that two-thirds of these earned less than $12,000 in the year prior to incarceration.
- Because 1 in 4 American adults has a criminal record, today's released prisoners are thrown into the deep end of an ex-offender "job pool" that is already overcrowded and short on oxygen.
- A year after release, 60 percent remain unemployed.
- Roughly one-third depend on America's $1 trillion "social safety net" for their daily existence (Medicaid, SSI, EITC, food stamps, subsidized housing, and TANF.)
- Over three-quarters reenter America's $270 billion criminal justice system within 5 years.
- Four out of 10 are arrested and re-incarcerated within a year of release.
At Open Door America, we know the numbers. It's why we invest so much time and energy cultivating relationships with employers who will hire ex-offenders.
In the coming days, Open Door America will be announcing exciting new employer partnerships that take the whole person into account when making hiring decisions. Employers who see beyond the limitations of one checked box on a criminal background report. Employers who understand that people make mistakes. Employers who believe that people can change.
We're always looking for the next employer hero . . . the next citizen change agent. We need more employers, and we need more donors to help underwrite our case management and mentoring efforts. To learn more, simply provide us with your email address at the bottom of this page. We'll be in touch. Thank you!
Data sources for this blog: Congressional Research Service, Executive Office of the President of the United States and Prison Policy Initiative.
Open Door Baltimore, a nonprofit that fights poverty by working with businesses to provide living-wage jobs, is expanding beyond the beltway. To better reflect the organization’s larger mission, the board of directors recently approved a new identity and logo.Read More