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Second Chance Month and Fair Chance Hiring

Supporting Justice-Impacted Individuals in the Workplace

Happy Second Chance Month! Alicia here – I am the Director of Re-Entry Services for Breakthrough. A little about me: I am a mission-driven criminal justice professional, which means that I follow the mission of using my expertise and talents to level the playing field for those impacted by the criminal justice system. Whether it is in the corporate, public, or non-profit sector, I have found my way to influential tables as an advocate for procedural fairness and community restoration. Breakthrough found me in the wild and I am happy to be a part of the team! 

As we celebrate Second Chance Month in April, I feel it is important to reflect on the barriers that justice-impacted individuals face when it comes to securing employment. Notably, 1 in 3 individuals has a criminal record in the United States (this is as many people as those that have college degrees). Studies have shown that access to employment is critical for reducing recidivism rates and promoting successful re-entry into society. However, many employers are hesitant to hire justice-impacted individuals due to misconceptions and concerns about risk.

Fortunately, there are steps that organizations can take to promote fair chance hiring and support justice-impacted individuals in the workplace. One such step is to implement a structured internal support system that addresses the unique challenges that justice-impacted employees may face.

At Breakthrough, we specialize in providing in-facility and community-based programming to justice-impacted individuals. Through our programming, we have seen firsthand the impact that employment can have on promoting successful reentry and reducing recidivism rates. Breakthrough’s graduate recidivism rate is 6% in comparison to the national average of around 44%. That’s why we’ve developed a comprehensive guide to fair chance hiring, which can be found on our website.

Below are some key strategies that organizations can implement to promote fair chance hiring and support justice-impacted employees in the workplace:

  • Establish a dedicated internal support team: Justice-impacted employees may face unique challenges, such as randomized drug testing, supervision appointments (“meeting with my P.O.” )  and mandatory court appearances as part of their court-ordered obligations. Establishing a dedicated support team can help provide additional managerial support and ensure that these employees are able to meet their obligations while still performing their job duties. In my past life as a probation officer, I witnessed many, many people being forced between incurring a technical probation violation that could end in a jail sentence or keeping their employment. Not only is this a counterproductive position for an employee, but it is a preventable plight with the right leadership team’s support.
  • Provide training for managers and coworkers: Educating managers and coworkers about the benefits of fair chance hiring, as well as the specific challenges that justice-impacted employees may face, can help foster a more inclusive workplace culture and promote better understanding and support for all employees. (SHRM posted a great read about this from a DEI perspective)
  • Offer mentorship and skill-building opportunities: Providing mentorship and skill-building opportunities can help justice-impacted employees develop the skills they need to succeed in the workplace and achieve their career goals. Upskilling/upward mobility are crucial to any fair-chance organization; employee development is crucial to this population. 
  • Reevaluate hiring policies and practices: Reviewing and revising hiring policies and practices to remove unnecessary barriers and allow for fair chance hiring can help promote diversity and inclusion in the workplace while also benefiting the organization by attracting a wider pool of qualified candidates. Working with organizations like our friends at Checkr (also my former professional stomping grounds) can help with this. Just think: what if the background check eliminated bias with a custom background check package tailored to fit your org’s recruitment efforts while also welcoming the justice-impacted talent pool?

By implementing these strategies, organizations can promote fair chance hiring, support justice-impacted individuals in the workplace, and ultimately benefit from the contributions of a diverse and high-performing workforce. 

In conclusion, fair chance hiring is not only beneficial for justice-impacted individuals, but also for organizations as a whole. By working together to promote fair chance hiring and support justice-impacted employees in the workplace, we can help break down barriers and create a more inclusive and equitable society. 

Let’s make Second Chance Month a time for action and progress towards a brighter future for all of our community members! 

For more information on fair chance hiring and how to support justice-impacted individuals in the workplace, visit our site for the toolkit. If you would like to hear more from me, consider following me on Linkedin

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