Successful reentry into the workforce is one of the most difficult obstacles for people who have been jailed. When you have a criminal record, a break in employment, and don’t have the skills you need to get hired, it can be difficult to return to work.
Even though criminal background workers may be reliable employees, getting employed, gaining an occupational license, and accessing educational opportunities might be challenging with a criminal past. Individuals with criminal histories, on the other hand, have a far longer tenure and are less likely to quit their positions voluntarily than other workers, according to study.
How can persons who have been incarcerated overcome the difficulties of finding work and regaining control of their lives? Participating in a workforce reentry program, which may help individuals gain the credentials they need to get hired, develop a career, and move forward with their lives, is one of the greatest approaches.
Workforce Reentry Programs: What Are They?
Workforce reentry programs are designed to help people who have been incarcerated find work, find stable housing, support their families, and give back to their communities.
Hundreds of organizations assist inmates who have served time in prison in gaining the skills and information they need to properly reintegrate back into their communities. Programs may include training, employment help, job placement, temporary housing, counseling, mentorship, and other support services, depending on the organization.
“After release, formerly incarcerated folks are connected to a person or group in the community who can help,” Jamar Williams, founder of Pittsburgh-based charity Re-Entry Living on Purpose, said in a phone interview with The Balance. One-on-one or group counseling, as well as peer support, may be part of the program.”
These programs offer provide hope—and a chance for a brighter future—in addition to providing participants with the skills they need to succeed in the profession. “Don’t believe everything someone tells you, and don’t believe that no one will give you a chance,” Williams remarked. These programs are intended to give those who have paid their societal debts a second opportunity.
Recognize Your Rights
When you’ve been incarcerated, it can be tough to find work. One of the most significant steps in making it simpler for those who have been incarcerated to reenter the workforce is to pass “Ban the Box” legislation.
Ban the Box legislation has been passed in over 150 U.S. towns and counties, as well as 36 states, prohibiting employers from asking about criminal convictions and arrest records. This leveling of the playing field ensures that applicants are judged on their qualifications rather than their criminal records.
In New York, for example, it is illegal to ask a candidate or employee if they have ever been arrested or if they have ever faced a criminal charge. In California, however, it is prohibited for most businesses to inquire about a job applicant’s criminal history before making an offer. Mentioning criminal history in job postings, applications, and interviews falls under this category.
Incentives and Hiring Programs
According to Williams, there are numerous job prospects available following incarceration. “Think about training programs, pre-apprenticeships, apprenticeships, and career routes rather than just finding a job,” he advised. “Many training programs are paid; you can be connected to them as part of the reentry process, and many will cover expenditures like obtaining a driver’s license and transportation.”
Employers who recruit people with impediments to work are rewarded by the federal government. The federal Work Opportunity Tax Credit (WOTC) promotes firms to recruit people from underrepresented groups, such as those with criminal records, who have trouble finding work.
Getting Ready to Re-Enter the Workforce
While in jail, there are opportunities to participate in educational programs. Literacy classes, English as a Second Language classes, adult continuing education, and library services are available in all federal prisons. They also provide on-the-job training in vocational and occupational fields, as well as post-secondary education in vocational and occupational fields.
Some states also give possibilities for training and education. These programs can lay the groundwork for a new profession following jail, as well as give work experience and abilities that can be placed on a résumé.
After you’ve been incarcerated, here are some pointers on how to get a job.
Despite the difficulties, it is feasible to rebuild a career. “It’s not uncommon for recently jailed people to believe that they are constrained,” Mark Drevno, founder and executive director of charity organization Jails to Jobs, told The Balance over the phone. Drevno recommends doing career assessments and inventories, thinking about potential work alternatives, and mapping out a career trajectory to get you where you want to go.
People who desire to go forward in their lives might enroll in training programs such as workforce reintegration programs, pre-apprenticeships, and apprenticeships. Many of them provide paid training, decent pay, and perks, as well as a good possibility of getting hired once you finish the program.
Finding and Keeping a Job After Being Arrested
“Your first job may not be ideal, but it can help you launch your career,” Drevno remarked. You’ll be off to a good start if you succeed in your first role. Preparing for a job search will make the process go more smoothly.
Beginning Your Job Search
Review Jail to Job’s New Entry Job Hunting Plan before you begin your job hunt. You can use it to get started with a step-by-step approach to manage your job hunt.
Compile a list of qualifications for job applications.
Making a list of all the information you’ll need to apply for jobs is an excellent idea. When filling out job applications, having all of the necessary information on hand will save you time.
Creating a Resume
You may need to prepare a resume depending on the job and organization you’re applying to. You can list any occupations you had while in prison, as well as your education and training, talents, and volunteer work.