Why hiring the previously incarcerated is good business
Wisconsin’s unemployment rate has been at historically low levels since late 2017. At the same time, the state’s labor force participation rate has remained high, although lower than Wisconsin’s peak of 74.5% in 1997. Wisconsin is also one of the top five states in terms of strongest job outlook.
The state’s strong economy is something to celebrate, but it creates very real challenges for employers seeking qualified, reliable workers. This handbook is meant to assist employers with considering and hiring a group of employees who are often left out of the labor force but would greatly benefit from stable employment: those with a criminal record.
Since half of the approximately 23,000 people in Wisconsin prisons today will be released in just two years, it is important to consider factors that will enable them to become contributing, productive members of society. Perhaps the most important factor that both deters recidivism and enables a successful transition to society is employment.
It can be difficult for employers to consider hiring someone with a criminal record for many reasons. We hope this handbook equips employers with the relevant information needed to make an informed decision for their respective businesses. We will first provide background on Wisconsin’s criminal justice system and explain who is being released from prison. We’ll discuss the benefits of hiring individuals with a criminal record, both for employers and society. Finally, we’ll offer testimonials from employers already engaged in hiring people with criminal records as well as some concrete next steps for those interested in learning more.