NCPA - National Center for Policy Analysis

Ex-cons Find Landing a Job Easier

April 3, 2000

Today's tight labor market is helping former prison inmates land jobs, experts report. Employers who previously wouldn't have wasted a minute interviewing someone fresh from jail now call authorities to invite them to send over ex-prisoners.

The federal government does not keep records on the numbers of former convicts who find work. But some states do.

  • About 40 percent of former prisoners found work in New York state last year -- up from 35 percent six years previously.
  • In Texas, 15,046 ex-offenders found work last year -- up from 13,727 two years earlier.
  • Officials at a job-hunting workshop in Detroit report that about half the ex-cons who take the course find a job in two weeks.

The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission holds that companies may discriminate in hiring convicted felons only when there is "a justifying business necessity." Under EEOC regulations, employers may consider three factors: the gravity of the crime, when it was committed and whether the crime was related to the nature of the job.

Most recruiters consider that to mean, for instance, that convicted bank robbers would not be considered for bank teller openings.

Source: Robyn Meredith, "Road from Prison to Jobs Gets Smoother," New York Times, April 3, 2000.


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