New Chair of Vera Institute Explains Why Hiring Formerly Incarcerated People Is Good For Business
Date:  02-11-2020

Giving second chances to formerly incarcerated people through employment opportunities would boost the economy
From Entrepreneur:

As black history month unfolds, and we pause to reflect on the difficult legacy of racism in America, there's one conversation that's especially pertinent to entrepreneurs: Why to hire formerly incarcerated people. Not only is it a principled stand to create job opportunities for the formerly incarcerated. It's also smart business.

My personal understanding of this issue is derived from my upbringing as a black boy in Washington DC during the 1980s. It was a sad era marred by excessive sentencing that disproportionately affected black Americans—something that most of the country agrees about now. We have the largest criminal justice system in the world, with three thousand prisons and jails housing 2.2 million people at an annual cost of $250 billion. Fractured and driven by private interests, our prison system is astronomically expensive, and ineffective.

Prison reform is just the beginning

The wheels of change are starting to turn, albeit slowly. The Trump administration’s 2018 First Step Act, as well as state reforms across the country, aim to reduce prison sentences and reform the bail system. But the name of Trump’s bill is accurate: It’s only the first step, and we need to think many steps ahead. As more and more people are released from jail and prison, they need a fair shot at integrating back into society. Formerly incarcerated people need housing, healthcare, and most importantly, jobs. And as an entrepreneur overseeing a credit platform that manages billions of dollars, I’ve seen the economic benefits for investors and corporate borrowers who increase employment opportunities for marginalized citizens. There is simply no business case for ignoring the swell of human capital emerging from a system operated at unsustainably high costs to taxpayers. Continue reading >>>