A diverse collection of companies is collaborating with the Obama administration in an attempt to remove hindrances for men and women seeking employment following incarceration.
The Fair Chance Business Pledge calls for employers to endorse hiring practices that provide former prisoners with an opportunity to succeed. Those signing the pledge vow to “ban the box” on initial job applications that asks if the potential employee has a criminal record, to regard any information regarding the applicant’s criminal past in context, and to not place jobs out of reach unnecessarily for these potential employees.
Among the initial signatories are Koch Industries, The Coca-Cola Company, American Airlines, Google, Georgia Pacific, PepsiCo, Starbucks, Prudential, and Xerox.
In a phone interview with Blooomberg News, Koch Industries spokesman Mark Holden says that not giving ex-prisoners a fair chance is “shortsighted.” “That doesn’t make sense,” he says. “Hiring people who had issues with the criminal justice system, we got some great employees—dedicated and hungry.”
The Fair Chance Business Pledge is part of an ongoing attempt by the White House to draw attention to those struggling to break the cycle of crime and incarceration. On March 30, President Obama announced the commutation of the sentences of 61 prisoners, and the week of April 24-30 has been designated by the Department of Justice as National Reentry Week. A planned White House event will honor those who are running rehabilitation and reentry programs for former prisoners.
If you would like to learn more about some of the challenges that returning prisoners face, and what you can do to be a part of the solution, visit the Second Prison Project website.