Employment is a pillar to successful re-entry and motivated employees are a lynchpin to successful business. Hiring returning citizens has proven beneficial to employers for the following reasons. Recognizing the value of returning citizens, Virginia is the 15th state to “ban the box” in hopes of easing barriers to employment for adults with arrest or conviction records. Dozens of municipalities have enacted similar policies.

There are several reasons to consider hiring returning citizens:

1Ex-offenders whose crimes are long in the past pose no greater risk than people in the general population. Researchers at Carnegie Mellon University found that over time, accused robbers, burglars and batterers pose no greater risk to employers than job candidates in the general population.

2Returning Citizens have a network of support to aid in their success. With the development of evidence based re-entry programming in Virginia there is a new emphasis to prepare individuals for release using principals proven to be successful. Employers benefit from the efforts taken to ensure a returning citizens success.

3Federal Programs add additional security by bonding employees. In 1966, the U.S. Department of Labor (USDOL) created the Federal Bonding Program (FBP) as an employer job-hire incentive that guaranteed the job honesty of at-risk job seekers. Federal Fidelity Bond insurance is issued free-of-charge to employers and enables the delivery of bonding services as a unique job placement tool to assist persons with prior criminal convictions. The bonds are issued in increments of $5,000 to employers at no cost for six months against employee dishonesty or theft on behalf of the employee. This bond is immediately available with no paperwork. For more information: https://vadoc.virginia.gov/community/programs/federalbonding.shtm

4There are tax incentives to hire returning citizens. The Work Opportunity Tax Credit (WOTC) is a federal tax credit incentive that congress provides to private-sector businesses for hiring individuals from any of ten targets groups who have consistently faced significant barriers to employment. For more information see http://www.vec.virginia.gov/employers/incentives/work-opportunity-tax-credit

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