How Second-Chance Hiring Benefits a Company and Its Community
Lloyd Martin is the vice president of manufacturing at CKS Packaging, a family-owned plastics company. Martin recently shared with Prison Fellowship® about how CKS' second-chance hiring program is helping people with a criminal record get a new lease on life—and helping CKS at the same time.
Prison Fellowship: How did CKS first begin hiring returning citizens?
Lloyd Martin: We’re a company rooted in Christian values. And we believe everyone, regardless of their past, is a person created by God. Two years ago, we started a second-chance program, beginning with five or six new hires, and now we have about 130 sustained second-chance employees. The majority are formerly incarcerated. If they want a career, we want to hire them.
What are some of the challenges?
Early on, I realized we didn't know what we were doing. I handed out the first paychecks, and some of the trainees just said, "What do I do with this?" They had no ID and no bank account, and I had no clue. Now I have a better understanding of what it looks like to help them get established with those essentials.
How do you help people make the most of their second chance?
First, they've got to reestablish their identity and not just a new ID card. Along with that comes the bank accounts, driver's license, etc. Second, it's important for these new employees to have a [positive] plan for the weekend. Otherwise, some could easily fall back to their old ways. They need healthy peer support.
CKS also supports Prison Fellowship. How do the hiring program and your financial support go together?
My goal is to have well over 200 sustained second-chance employees in our company. If an organization [like Prison Fellowship] has avenues to help expand our program in other areas, that's a real incentive to me. Prison Fellowship has a national footprint and understands the need for a full, well-rounded program. It's about helping a returning citizen find employment as well as counseling, housing, addiction help, and financial help.
What successes have you seen since this program started?
It's about doing God's work and giving people an opportunity to reach their potential. We also benefit by getting a sustained employee who genuinely appreciates that we've given them a second chance.
How else has this program been beneficial to CKS?
One of the original second-chance employees had spent six years in prison for being part of a drug ring. We brought him on, taught him the business, and trained him to be a quality technician. Then we needed a quality manager in another one of our facilities and relocated him out there. He's still our quality manager out there, and he's with family. He's been promoted since then. I called him the other day, and he had nothing but praise and thankfulness for his second chance.
What do you wish other employers knew about hiring formerly incarcerated people?
Returning citizens can be champions. With training and support, they can see you're investing time in them. These men and women can become extremely loyal, hardworking, productive, and effective employees for your company.
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