Advocates address benefits of employing former inmates

Louisiana News

LAFAYETTE, La. (KLFY)- More than 18,000 people are released from prison every year in Louisiana.

Statistics show that after five years, 43% of those released end up right back in prison.

“Every time that you put on the application that you’ve been incarcerated, you don’t get a call back. You don’t get a second interview,” Marcus Simmons, a former inmate, said. “You don’t get the job, so it was really hard. It was hard not to turn back to the life I know.”

Simmons said it’s challenging to secure a job after prison.

“It got debilitating, but I never forgot the things I learned in prison,” Simmons said.

“One of the major barriers that employers have is the stigma of hiring someone that was formerly incarcerated,” Scott Peyton, state director of Right on Crime, told News 10. “They’re concerned about their public perception. They’re also concerned about the safety of their co-workers at the business.”

Peyton works with local businesses and non-profits and helps them make informed decisions when considering hiring those who were previously incarcerated.

“People that are formerly incarcerated are much more loyal and much more dependable because they realize that they are getting a second chance and that they may not get another chance to secure employment,” Peyton said.

Peyton suggests employers should delay a background check and get to know a candidate whose been incarcerated before deciding they wouldn’t make a good employee.

“See what the offense was. Get the details. How much time has elapsed since that conviction? Have they been crime free since then?” Peyton added. “And make sure the type of crime that was committed doesn’t relate to your type of business.”

Peyton said Louisiana passed laws in 2014 that limit employers’ liability when they hire former inmates.

There are also tax credits and a federal bonding program to assist employers in hiring those with a criminal record.

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