A very nice article about a new reentry-focused law in California that seems to be working, from Comstock Magazine.
We wish them well but the record for reentry/rehabilitation programs is not good, see our Rehabilitation: Evaluation of Failure page. https://catholiceye.wordpress.com/2011/11/07/evaluation-of-reentry-programs-3/
Nine years after the recession drove many tradespeople out of the business, the dearth of skilled construction workers in Northern California seems as permanent as a concrete piling.
“We’re definitely feeling it,” says Brent Perkins, human resource manager at Clark Pacific, which creates fabricated building systems with plants in West Sacramento and Woodland. “Tilt-up, cast-in-place, framing, rough framing, finish carpentry — there’s a big gap.”
About six years ago, Clark Pacific started hiring graduates of an apprenticeship program run by Northern California Construction Training, a nonprofit that teaches building skills to ex-offenders and others. Over six years, Perkins estimates that the company has hired about 75 people with a criminal record. A handful have moved up from production roles into lead, specialist and foreman jobs. None of those they’ve hired has reoffended on the job.
“We’ve found a great workforce with people who had a small bump in the road and need that one chance,” Perkins says.
Giving ex-offenders a better chance at reintegration is behind the California Fair Chance Act, which took effect in January. A wealth of research shows that having a job is the most important factor in cutting recidivism rates. With exceptions for a few types of jobs, the new law forbids businesses with five or more employees from asking applicants about criminal history until late in the hiring process — which could mean big changes in how many employers hire.
A Second Chance
Ashley Volkerts’ earliest memories involve substance abuse. Her parents, who had drug and alcohol problems, let her try her first beer at age 4 and a double shot of tequila at age 8, she says. For her 12th birthday, her mother gave her a pipe loaded with pot. She continued to use as an adult and ultimately got into small-time dealing with an ex-husband.
After four stints in jail and ongoing attempts to get clean, Volkerts joined Alcoholics Anonymous last March and has been clean for over a year. But she says getting a job has been just as instrumental to making changes as treatment.
Last October, she was hired at a restaurant in Loomis and has since advanced to manager. “A job gives you a purpose — you have to dress up and show up,” she says. You won’t hear her complain about getting emergency calls to come in for a shift. “It’s great to be depended on. I’m the one who gets called when someone doesn’t show up. I love it,” she says. “Had my employer gone with the person with no criminal record, they wouldn’t have gotten someone who gives great customer service and who totally has the back of the company like I do.”
Titan Gilroy, CEO and owner of Rocklin-based Titans of CNC, says he sees a similar kind of dedication from the employees he’s hired, despite them having a record.
“People are different: There are those who need to stay in prison, and there’s a percentage who aren’t used to hard work. And there’s a big percentage that are so sincere in their effort that they make the best employees. … Employers should look at where [the applicant] is going, not where he’s been — how he makes eye contact, how he shakes a hand. When [employers] do that, they’ll get extreme loyalty,” he says. (Gilroy himself spent time in prison before founding his company in 2005.)
Beyond the potential qualities of ex-inmate hires, state and local governments are looking to financially incentivize companies to be more open-minded. Under the federal Work Opportunity Tax Credit, employers who hire and retain people who have significant employment barriers, including convictions, can get up to $9,600 in federal credits. California’s New Employment Credit program targets businesses in areas of high poverty and unemployment by offering tax credits to employers who pay people with a previous felony conviction over 150 percent of the state minimum wage for full-time work — the portion beyond the 150 percent threshold up to a maximum of 350 percent is eligible for a credit. And a joint federal and state effort, the Fidelity Bonding Program, provides free bonding insurance for employers who hire at-risk applicants, including those with a criminal record.
Retrieved May 30, 2018 from https://www.comstocksmag.com/longreads/banning-box?utm_