NCPA - National Center for Policy Analysis

Ex-Cons Find Jobs

April 24, 2000

The competition for workers in the U.S. is doing more for the prospects of former prison inmates than cadres of social workers ever could, experts report. Starved for help, employers are giving ex-cons a chance and the results are sometimes surprising.

  • While nationwide statistics are scarce to nonexistent, New York reports that 40 percent of offenders on parole are employed -- up from 33 percent six years ago.
  • Due to the record number of felony convictions since the late 1980s, about 2.5 million felons were on parole or probation in 1998 -- up from 1.5 million a decade ago.
  • Experts say that former prisoners who find a job upon release are less likely to be returned to prison later -- a factor which could have a positive impact on the crime rate.
  • Only 40 percent of ex-cons commit crimes again -- and that number is much lower for those who find employment.

While few employers are happy about having to resort to this labor pool, those who do hire them report generally favorable outcomes -- and are willing to rethink their former opposition. A number of employers report that ex-prisoners often demonstrate extraordinary gratitude and loyalty in exchange for trust, responsibility and a paycheck.

Source: Mark Tatge, "With Unemployment Low, a New Group Is in Demand: Ex-Cons," Wall Street Journal, April 24, 2000.


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