In the United States 754 for every 100,000 people, or 2 million individuals, are currently incarcerated.1  Additionally, studies have shown that over 68% of former prisoners recidivate within 3 years of their release and 89% within 9 years. 2  This is the highest documented incarceration rate in the world. One solution to reduce this rate is to use technology to increase connectivity of these inmates to resources and gainful employment opportunities for those who want change. However, finding meaningful employment is not only beneficial to the individual or community, but to the company hiring as well.  

Beyond giving an individual the opportunity for a second chance, there are tax credits and other incentives offered to employers in order to help reduce national recidivism rates. Additionally, studies have shown that a major disrupter in the cycle of recidivism is gainful employment. A job gives a formerly incarcerated individual purpose and a way to make a living, a way to change their story. However, beyond monetary incentives and altruistic motivations, many more benefits lie in the employment of formerly incarcerated individuals.  

Here are a few reasons why giving these individuals a second chance can pay off for your company, your community, and the individual.   

  1. Loyalty and Hard-Work: Prior to the Covid-19 Pandemic, formerly incarcerated individuals faced a 27 percent unemployment rate. This rate is nearly 5x’s higher than the unemployment rate of the general public. 1 Due to their difficulty finding employment and limited options, a formerly incarcerated individual is far more likely to become a long-term employee. If they are treated fairly and paid a good wage, you can expect long-term retention for these employees because they are generally grateful for the opportunity. They have more to gain by staying with a company long-term and proving their value in that job rather than seeking other employment. For example, a study on job performance among call center employees revealed that employees with a criminal record stayed with the company longer and were less likely to quit than those without a criminal record. 3 
  2. Community Enrichment: When a formerly incarcerated individual is given a job and a second chance, this disrupts the cycle of recidivism for them, and subsequent generations connected to them. Gainful employment to this individual becomes a lifeline to a new story and doorway to a new life. This individual is less likely to reoffend, thus making the communities they are in a safer environment. Studies have shown that community and family connection increase the chances of re-entry success for formerly incarcerated individuals.4 
  3. Financial and Tax Incentives: There are several great incentives offered to companies that employ former convicts. One of the major benefits is the Work Opportunity Tax Credit. Employers can earn a federal tax credit between $1,200 to $9,600 per employee.5 There are also many programs available to companies that help protect these companies and offer further incentives to hiring a felon like a discounted bond or perceived loss insurance in order to incentivize employers. Many large corporations utilize this tax credit.  

Ending recidivism and shifting the narrative for this group of individuals is a worthy enough reason to offer a job to a former felon, but the other benefits to such a hire should have you considering this method of hiring! To find out more about the Work Opportunity Tax Credit, visit here.  

Some of the ways VendEngine, Inc. has worked to reduce recidivism and equip inmates for gainful employment is the integration of tablet technology, easily accessible educational resources for inmates, easy-to-use video communication methods to keep in contact with loved ones while incarcerated, and the Resource Project, an online hub for opportunities and needed resources for inmates and their families upon re-entry. If you’d like to be a part of this network of resources for individuals leaving incarceration or want to know what resources are available, visit our site here.


Footnotes and Resources: 

1. https://www.prisonpolicy.org/reports/pie2020.html 

2. https://fas.org/sgp/crs/misc/RL34287.pdf 

3. https://www.prisonpolicy.org/reports/outofwork.html 

4. Dylan Minor, Nicola Persico, and Deborah M. Weiss. 2017.Criminal Background and Job Performance.Available at SSRN. 

5. https://www.prisonlegalnews.org/news/2014/apr/15/lowering-recidivism-through-family-communication/ and http://www.vera.org/sites/default/files/resources/downloads/Piloting-a-Tool-for-Reentry-Updated.pdf on family impact for recidivism rates 

6. https://www.irs.gov/businesses/small-businesses-self-employed/work-opportunity-tax-credit 

7.www.theresourceproject.org 

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