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Detroit Legal Blog

Michigan Employers Are Being Encouraged To Hire Ex-Offenders

Jun 20, 2016, by Maurice Davis in Legal Blog

Around 65 million members of the American labor force face an uphill battle when looking for a job because of their criminal records. According to a 2010 report by the Center for Economic and Policy Research, the high unemployment rate among people with criminal records costs the American economy around $60 billion every year in lost productivity and reduced output of goods and services.

The high unemployment among ex-convicts doesn’t just affect the economy—it’s also closely related to the recidivism rate. Unlike in many states, Michigan employers are allowed to ask job applicants about their criminal history in preliminary applications, which results in many otherwise qualified candidates being automatically excluded from consideration. Unable to find employment, around 30% of Michigan’s ex-offenders turn back to crime within just three years of their release.

Some Michigan Companies Are Hiring Ex-Offenders

Twenty years ago, a western Michigan specialty butter producer called Butterball Farms began hiring people with criminal records to work at their processing plant. In 2013, 33% of the people Butterball Farms hired had some sort of criminal record. By 2015, that number increased to 55% of its workforce.

Now, some of these ex-offenders are Butterball Farms’ most dedicated employees, with many of them working their way up into management positions. For this reason, Butterball Farms is encouraging other Michigan business to follow suit.

In 2012, Butterball Farms launched the 30-2-2 initiative along with Michigan manufacturing company Cascade Engineering and the Grand Rapids Community College. The goal of the initiative is to convince 30 local businesses and organizations to each hire two individuals with a criminal background. As of last year, they had 19 committed companies who had hired over 100 people with criminal records.

Prosecutors Join Forces with Businesses to Promote Ex-Inmate Employment

Hiring ex-offenders not only improves the American workforce, it also decreases the recidivism rate. Managers often overestimate the risk that ex-offenders pose to the company, while ignoring the benefit of giving these people meaningful jobs and a steady paycheck.

These are not just the words of social justice advocates—prosecutors across Michigan and the country believe that providing good employment opportunities for ex-offenders is the key to reducing the number of people who turn back to a life of crime upon their release from prison. As U.S. Attorney for the Eastern District of Michigan Barbara L. McQuade stated: “If we don’t help them, it’s a recipe for recidivism.”

The U.S. Attorney’s Office has even joined forces with the Detroit Public Safety Foundation to host a conference to encourage more government and business leaders to hire ex-convicts. The goal is to convince more and more employers to “ban the box,” which means delaying questions about criminal history from preliminary job applications until the applicant’s skills and experience have been evaluated.

Companies that have banned the box nationwide include Tim Hortons, Target, and Home Depot. As more and more business and government leaders wake up to the importance of providing job opportunities for ex-offenders, it’s likely that Michigan’s recidivism rate will decrease.

Trust Michigan’s Davis Law Group For Experienced Legal Counsel

Davis Law Group is at the service of Michigan residents that are in need of aggressive and compassionate legal services. We have the skill and experience to defend against a wide range of criminal offenses, and we pride ourselves on putting our client’s interests first. If you need a Detroit criminal defense lawyer, call us today at (313) 818-3238 for a free and confidential consultation of your case.