MYTH: Many employers believe that ex-offenders do not want to work.
Fact: There are many men and women who really want to work including those who may have been previously incarcerated. For example, the owner of a large East Coast heavy vehicle wash facility stated that his experience working with ex-offenders has been nothing but phenomenal. Approximately 92 percent of his workforce has criminal backgrounds. Affirmed owner Matthew Hitt, “We had an employee who…would spend 4 hours getting here because he was so worried about missing his start time. When you see that kind of willingness that you really don’t see in the rest of society today, it’s kind of hard to say that it’s not working out” (Pastforwardmd.org).” That’s dedication and commitment to employment!
MYTH: Individuals with past criminal involvement are unreliable and lack discipline, a solid work ethic, and communication skills.
Fact: Many individuals who have previously been involved in our system of justice want to prove that they can be successful in the workplace. Like other employees, they are loyal and conscientious. Affirmed Pamela Paulk, the Johns Hopkins Health System’s Vice-President of Human Resources, “[We have] a long and happy history of hiring ex-offenders. [They are] good, loyal, solid workers, and I have the numbers to prove it. I pulled a sample, randomly of 80 of the people who had been hired with positive criminal backgrounds from the year 2000. Of the 80 that we looked at, 73 of them still work at Hopkins today. That is a better retention rate than the average hire (Pastforwardmd.org).”
In terms of communication skills, many justice-involved men, women, and youth have received training on how to communicate better and as a result, have created emotional and communication support systems that make them effective in the workplace.
MYTH: Other employees will not want to work with justice-involved individuals.
Fact: As you do with other employees, there is no need for your workforce other than line managers to know of an employee's past. You will be surprised how quickly individuals with past criminal involvement will fit in, given the opportunity (U.S. Probation and Pretrial Services, NH).
MYTH: The existence of criminal convictions is an indication of being untrustworthy.
Fact: Many people assume that individuals who have been incarcerated have a basic character flaw that is not found in the "normal" population. In the vast majority of cases, these are "normal" people who have made a mistake and are ready to put it behind them (U.S. Probation and Pretrial Services, NH). In fact, When is it Safe to Hire Someone With a Criminal Record? New Carnegie Mellon Study Provides Empirical Basis for Employers To Use in Assessment of Prior Criminal Records indicates that after five years of no new arrests (the report called this “staying clean”), a person with a criminal record posed no greater risk to an employer than other candidates of the same age who had never been arrested.