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Former convicts deserve a fresh start

After serving jail or prison time in Massachusetts, there are often few opportunities for former convicts. All across America, their work opportunities are stifled by personal biases and 30,000 license restrictions. According to Forbes, these restrictions actually do more harm than good for the public.

Keep in mind that having a criminal record is no rarity in America. Roughly one-third of Americans have been convicted of a crime before, and anywhere from 60 to 70 percent of these could not find work within a year of their release. Employers simply do not want to hire people with criminal records, and even a misdemeanor from years prior can follow a person for life. This may increase the likelihood of committing another offense to make a living, causing many to end up right back in prison.

In fact, CNN Business cautions that employers are missing out on one of the most valuable pools of talent by not hiring former convicts. As the article points out, it would be unwise to assume that everyone with a criminal record is a career criminal. It is also important to note that not all crimes are violent crimes. While this does not mean there were no victims involved, it is nonetheless a reminder to reconsider the mental profile many people often keep in mind of former offenders.

A ray of hope comes from the fact that the Society for Human Resource Management launched a campaign to encourage more business leaders to give qualified former convicts a chance to prove themselves in the workplace. Additionally, almost half of human resource practitioners in America agree that a criminal record should not keep someone out of the workforce.

Needless to say, it will take some time before this kind of thinking gains traction. However, as more and more companies lead the way through example, others might follow. And, as more ex-convicts make it into the workforce without incident, hopefully with time the stigma will fade.

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