To Hire Or Not To Hire An Ex-Convict: What Employers Should Consider - Business Management Daily
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To Hire Or Not To Hire An Ex-Convict: What Employers Should Consider

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in Human Resources

According to the U.S. Bureau of Justice Statistics (BJS), each year more than 650,000 men and women are released from federal and state prisons and return to their communities and families. But do they return to productive employment? Unfortunately, too often the answer is no.


It is estimated that unemployment rates among ex-prisoners are between 25-40%. Experts agree that these high unemployment rates are a key factor in recidivism; the one-year post-release recidivism rate is 44%.


On the one hand, you might feel that these ex-convicts have paid their debt to society and arguably deserve a second chance. However, you also realize that you have a responsibility to protect your business, your other employees, and your customers, and that you could be held liable for negligent hiring if things go awry post-hire.



  1. Do your state or local laws prevent the consideration of certain convictions? Some sta...(register to read more)

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{ 23 comments… read them below or add one }

John December 12, 2015 at 3:47 pm

I agree both ways on this subject. A felon should be able to live down their past. If someone goes ten plus years straight they’re hardly a career criminal. As for companies yes, they should be able to set their hiring standards but where should the line be drawn? Felons have a higher tendency in the eyes of some to re offend but some also think minorities are less trust worthy so should they be able to bar hiring them? No! And as for ex-cons seeking work they have paid their debt. Society deemed certain penalties appropriate for certain crimes so once the punishment is served get over it! Also companies should be up front. Say straight up they won’t hire anyone with a record and stop being cowards and letting people waste time applying if they won’t hire them. For all the people who are so one sided and say they don’t deserve to make a living just remember what their alternative is to take care of themselves.


Steven October 20, 2015 at 4:48 pm

I have 1 Fallon and I’m 22 and I’m going for My bussness management bashalers and all of you people…gods creation..wat you said really really made me think of who who yes I said godcreation who is stopping STOPinggg us.a couple of guys who voted is stopping us from getting money.y’all made me reaaaaeeeaaally think.


Mike October 26, 2014 at 8:43 pm

One of the main reasons that recidivism rates are high is the fact that ex-felons can’t get jobs.

Society continually screams saying they want people to get out of prison and get a job and do the right thing and stop committing crimes. But they cannot get jobs. So if a company is not hiring ex-felons then that company is part of the problem. Not part of the solution. If companies would hire ex-felons then the recidivism rate would in fact go down.

And Tim Pharrel it is people like YOU that are part of the problem and not part of the solution.


Marcia August 19, 2014 at 7:23 pm

Okay I am a victim of violence and the person who assulted me works for a business where the employees are allowed in peoples homes and left alone at their homes? The customers are NOT notified of this that is wrong! the ownwe should have to notify his customers, shouldn’t he, if not legally morally!


Moe Ozuna July 15, 2014 at 8:49 pm

What if we commited the felony crime at a young age, you know that saying, “young and dumb”. So people dont change is what your saying, you are the same exact person you were when you were about 17 or 18? No, your better, so why cant that be same for a ex-felon? Are we not all human, evolving, mentalities growing with each passing year? We should all get a second chance to prove that we are not that “young and dumb” or even yet “middleaged and dumb”, put in better words, not that old person we once were.
I am a three time loser, or so known as from societies point of view.
Caught my first charge when i was 18, again at 21 and again at 22.
So according to yall, i should be locked away for the rest of my life and if not that, a low or middle class life is my future.
I’m not that person that was always looking from the inside out, now I’m that person looking from the outside, up.
Now 25, working a full time job, in summer college classes with the dream of being a business owner. A struggle you say, easy, struggle is what ive known for the past 7 years. But it shouldnt be this hard for a citizen in the United States just trying to live as everybody else does. If we want to do do better, they should of make us work for it, being incarcerated, fine, but done paying our dues. Give us a chance, give us classes, give us obstacles, let us redeem your trust, and last of all let us be restored to what was before this nightmare, including all of our rights.


Anna May 24, 2014 at 10:18 pm

Yes I agree~Everyone deserves another chance and should be open minded. Hopefully they learnt a lesson and employers give them another chance to prove themselves without using their past to judge them…


Tim Pharrel April 19, 2014 at 6:53 am

The recidivism rates for ex convicts is extremely high. So of course, they will not want to hire you for their company positions they are trying to fill. In this very tough job market, when the unemployment is so high, why should an employer hire an ex con, when they can hire someone who never went to prison? If you do not like the hiring practices of refusing to employ ex cons, then do not commit the crime, and you will never have to worry about being turned down for jobs due to your criminal past and victimization of other members of society who know how to function in a society.


No.... May 8, 2014 at 10:30 pm

Not everyone in society is functional just because they don’t have a criminal background….
The only difference between a majority of “functioning” members of society and someone with a record is…the person with the record got caught. It’s not a secret. People without records can be just as bad.


John January 21, 2015 at 12:23 pm

Hey smart guy I don’t know how old you are what about all the fun new laws that hit the books on a daily basis ******** the younger generation? You know I remember block parties where some older folk may have gotten too tipsy and argued. The police may even come and they’re yelling to one another they’ll kill um…. You ever see something like this say in the 80’s 90’s? The police would say shut up get some rest? Well a man says those same words and he’s committed a Serious Violent Felony and a strike! So is it still fair for a company to condemn applicants for things like arguments and fist fights that weren’t even crimes when they grew up and every young man did? You think 20 years ago you’d see a DUI in state prison? Hell NO! These days are not as easy for the DONT DO THE CRIME saying. A generation ago crimes were crimes… Rape, Murder, Armed Robbery, and the like. We need to get back to that! And who knows the law at 18-19? Ya you know its wrong to murder rape and steal…. Do you know if you tell your girls ex over the phone your butt will be in prison? Probably not, then burned down economically for life? Why not just execute?


Ozzy December 10, 2015 at 12:30 pm

“…why should an employer hire an ex con, when they can hire someone who never went to prison? ”

The problem is that many employers would not perform background checks on applicants for various roles, so if one declares he/she has no past convictions, the employer wouldn’t have positive evidence to prove that.

If an ex-offender was open enough to make disclosure especially when it would have been easier and less stressful for him/her not to, it establishes the candour and present moral status of the ex-offender, as compared to one who declares no conviction.

“If you do not like the hiring practices of refusing to employ ex cons, then do not commit the crime”.

Unfortunately, most of us do engage in offences but only a small subset lead to convictions (as criminologists, judges and academics have known for many years now). That is why it is fallacious to assume that those lacking convictions are not ex-offenders, in de facto reality. Employers shouldn’t assume that those who declare they have no past convictions have never engaged in past criminality and are somehow innocent. Turning down an applicant honest enough to make disclosure might mean that the next applicant recruited may have failed to disclose a conviction, especially if no background checks were made. Or, the employer may unknowingly recruit someone who did a medium to major crime that didn’t even end in a criminal record, much less a conviction!


Kimberly August 13, 2012 at 4:33 pm

Dear Yvonne,

My husband is currently obtaining his masters in Drug and Alcohol counseling, and he has a criminal background, but has changed his life around, you would not even think he was the same person, but cannot catch a break anywhere in obtaining employment, but our faith, just as yours is in GOD and you are right, he is the giver of second chances, rather that be here on earth or in heaven with him, a second chance will come.


Yvonne RGV July 28, 2012 at 9:25 am

Wow I feel everyones pain and Fustration!!! I myself am a recovering alcoholic and addict, with 9 yrs of sobriety. I have 2 felonies (controlled substances, less than a gram each and a dwi), I did not go to prison but am treated as if I did, beacuse I can not get a break!! I have my Masters that I recently obtained in May 2012, as a Rehabilitative Counselor and was able to get registered for my License as a Chemical Dependency Counselor, I want to be once again a productive member of society, help the less fortunate that are suffering as I once did!! all my applications have been denied once they see my past criminal history!! but I must continue to keep my Faith Alive in God!! He is the giver of second chances and my Hope is in Him!! God Bless All, Never Loose Your Hope, for the Sun shines again tomorrow!!


derick skiles May 8, 2012 at 10:21 am

I have been trying to go to collage and found it was hard to do what I really want to do. I was in prison for nine and a half years on a ten. I just got off. I was trying to go and learn how to do hair and nails. Say that I could not take my state board test. I think that if you did your time that you should be able to do what you want to. I mean everyone should be given a chance to prove there self. I find this web site helpful and good. Thank you for putting this on. I think everyone should have an open mind. Thank you


anon. February 15, 2012 at 1:04 pm

f.p. wade, I’ve heard this before, esp. in times of high unemployment. Here’s an organization that doesn’t discriminate against ex-felon’s because it’s run by one. I think it’s terrible how hard it is for former prisoners, (especially for non-violent crimes and victimless crimes like smoking pot) to get a fresh start after they’ve paid their debt to society and are trying to turn over a new leaf. Don’t give up trying. Here’s one link…I hope there are other organizations that state right in their mission they’re willing to give former prisoners a second chance.
Good luck


f.p.wade February 9, 2012 at 8:46 pm

HYPOCRACY!!! I am a convicted felon. Manufacture of controlled substance (growing marijuana). I did not have a muti-million $, high-tech growing lab, the meter reader noticed less than 10 pot plants growing near my house. All were seedlings less than 8 inches tall. For 21 years, I have not been able to get a decent, steady job, have been denied most professional lisences, can’t vote, can’t hunt, can’t, can’t, can’t,……. It is no wonder that recidivism is so high. Once convicted, always persecuted. Unfortunately, the only jobs that are available to us are illegal. It was my fault the first time, society is to blame for anything else


concerned citizen April 9, 2012 at 8:35 pm

F.P. Wade I’m not sure who told you you couldn’t vote. But unless you are in prison on a fugitive you can and do have the right to vote. I can’t believe there are still people telling EX-offenders they can’t vote. Please go register to vote and do vote it’s your civic duty.


Fat Ma June 11, 2012 at 11:58 pm

Iwas convicted of Arson in 2010, served 6 months in a detention center and was told that I could not vote for the next 10 yearsbut I see you saying that F.P. Wade (and essentially me) can? How is this?


Gail September 27, 2012 at 12:44 am

I believe the law was changed sometimes in the past few years. It’s pathetic how they keep it a secret. I only know this to be true because I was at a picnic with the former registrar of voters in my town and complained to her that my son can’t vote due to his felony conviction. She said once he was done with his probation he could vote.


Mike October 26, 2014 at 8:38 pm

In Florida an ex-felon does not have the right to vote unless that right has been restored by the Governor and Cabinet. And they are not doing it.


Brae April 23, 2013 at 1:35 am

My husband also has the same charge on his record.I agree that the mandatory sentencing laws for such crimes (growing marijuana) should be revisited especially in light of states pushing for the substance to be legalized. I supported my husbands struggle for years. He worked temp jobs, high risk jobs, and was turned down numerous times due to his record for the “good jobs”. He stayed positive and looked for companies that offer a second chance (there are some out there). His efforts proved worth it and he now has a salaried career doing something he enjoys with a company who’s main focus is faith and forgiveness. Stay up, know your rights, and do research on your issue. There are programs available in some states and, no, they are not easily found. YOU CAN VOTE!! Just another common misunderstanding that should’ve been corrected prior to your release. I do not have very much faith in programs offered by state or government non profits, mainly because the people that are supposed to be mentoring aren’t informed enough on the issues or just don’t care enough. Goodluck and don’t give up.


Mantu M. Craven November 4, 2011 at 10:21 am

Good job!


Jeff Hagen October 30, 2011 at 8:58 pm

Keith, clear, great info.


Jeff Hagen October 30, 2011 at 8:57 pm

Keith, this is clear and great info.


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