In House - The FindLaw Corporate Counsel Blog

Should Your Business Hire Ex-Convicts?

What do Mark Wahlberg, Martha Stewart, and Tim Allen all have in common?

They are all very successful ex-felons. How did they do so well even after their convictions?

Somebody saw their potential and gave them a chance. So should your company hire ex-convicts or ex-felons, too?

Felonious Lives Matter

It's not exactly a movement, but more companies are giving ex-cons a second-look as potential workers. Dave's Killer Bread, for example, employs about 100 people who have criminal backgrounds.

Gretchen Peterson, the director of human resources at the Oregon bakery, said they don't have to spend money on recruitment because of its a reputation as a second-chance employer. John Tucker, chief executive office, said his ex-felons perform better than the non-felons.

"Most people think it's the opposite: that the ex-felons are a challenge, are difficult," he said. "That is simply not the case."

Writing for the Week, Julie Kleigman says there are other advantages to hiring ex-convicts: tax incentives. The Work Opportunity Tax Credit can save an employer thousands of dollars if it hires a ex-felon within a year of release from prison.

Many Fields

The Prison Entrepreneurship Program, a non-profit mentoring organization, prepares felons from the inside to work on the outside. It has been featured on Fox News, National Public Radio and other media for its activities. Participants have found jobs in many fields.

Walhberg and Allen, for their parts, got second chances through entertainment. After serving her time, Stewart rebounded in business.

In most states, ex-felons can even become lawyers. It requires a good moral character, not a clean record.

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