Should I Hire Someone With A Criminal Background?

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April 24, 2018

Hiring Someone with a criminal background

Every single year in America, an astounding 650,000 prisoners who have served their time are released from jail. However, just because they are free from jail does not mean they are free from the implications of social stigmas and the stereotype of being a "criminal" that will follow them around for years to come. To complicate matters, these people now have to reintegrate into society, yet many companies will remain unwilling to hire them because of a past mistake.

However, the question is what are companies losing out by oftentimes refusing to hire anyone with some sort of criminal background? Considering that 3 in 10 Americans have some sort of criminal record, companies who refuse to hire anyone with any sort of criminal background, they are not hiring about 30% of Americans.

Consider One Fact: These People Have Done the Time For Their Crimes:

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When these people are released from jail or prison they have already done their time. They have paid the price for a (non-violent) crime. They had days, weeks, months, and possibly even years to simply sit and think about what they have done. 

Their mistake is the past and they have "paid the price" for the crime(s) they committed. These people have now been released from prison and have to "assimilate" back into society. That includes finding meaningful work and being able to find a way to support themselves as they start their lives over again.

If companies are not going to give them a chance how are they supposed to be able to start their lives over and become a productive part of society again?

What Positives Are There To Hiring People with Criminal Backgrounds?

The problem often is that when many company executives who do the hiring think of criminals, they think of hiring someone who has committed violent crimes. However, for most people who have a criminal background, they have not committed a crime that involved violence in the first place.

When determining if you are going to hire someone with a criminal background, the job they will be doing and the crimes they have committed should be into account. However, many criminals who have committed non-violent crimes, there can indeed be a second chance for companies who choose to hire these people on as employees, even on a "trial" or "probationary" period. 

The following are 4 great reasons that some companies may actually find quality employees in people who may indeed have a criminal record and who is getting a second chance once they are released from prison: 

  • You Will Be Hiring Very Grateful People: People who are coming out of being incarcerated are going to find it very challenging to find a good-paying job to help them start over again and build their lives up over again. These people will likely almost always be willing to do whatever it takes to not only get a job but to keep that job as well. You were looking out for them by giving them a chance to rejoin the workforce, so they will likely be looking to make sure that second chance counts and be the best employee they can be for your company.
  • They May Possess Education They Gained In Prison That Transfers To Your Job: Many prisoners are also receiving training while they are incarcerated. This job training can be anything from getting a GED to a college degree (Associate's/Bachelor's degree) or even going through a job training program. These programs will often provide them skills that they will bring to your workplace once they have served their sentence. Their education and knowledge can be a positive contribution to your company as well as they will bring their discipline and hard work that it took to get a degree to their first job once they get out of jail/prison.
  • These Employees Tend To Stay Loyal To their Companies Longer: Studies show that employees who were incarcerated and were hired upon their release tend to stay with the company that hired them for longer than other employees. A study of people in sales positions showed that those with criminal records tended to stay on the job for 3 weeks longer than their typical counterpart who stayed on the job for 5 months. That may not seem like much of a difference, but considering that each employee turnover tends to cost the average company about $4,000, this can add up to saving a company significant amounts of money over time.
  • Many Businesses Will Get Tax Incentives To Hire People With A Criminal Record: Many job positions that are filled by someone with a criminal record are eligible for tax incentives if you are giving that person their first job since their incarceration. The tax incentive comes thanks to the government's Work Opportunity Tax Program1. The average company reports for hiring someone who was incarcerated is about $2,400, or over 1/2 of the $4,000 cost of the average employee "turnover" rate.

Will Formerly-Incarcerated Employees Create More Problems That I Have To Fire Them For?

While it's never a guarantee of who you will or won't have to fire while on the job, many studies show that the firing rates of formerly incarcerated employees are not much higher than those of formerly non-incarcerated employees. 

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Also, keep in mind that many formerly incarcerated people have gone through corrections programs and rehabilitation programs before they have come back to join the modern society. Most all of them are eager to get out and get back to their daily lives and put their past mistakes behind them. They will grateful for any company who is willing to them the chance to do so.


There is a place in the workforce for those who have formerly been incarcerated, especially those who committed non-violent crimes. Considering 3 in 10 Americans have some sort of criminal record, giving these people another chance to get their lives going in the right directions is something many companies have found beneficial, and they have been rewarded with great additions to their company or team for it.

For more information about considering added formerly incarcerated employees to your workforce, please feel free to contact us.


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