One of the biggest challenges for most people when they get out of prison is getting a job that will let them support themselves and their families. Even though Washington has a “ban the box” law that prohibits most employers from asking applicants about their criminal record, there are other ways they can find out.
Many employers’ fears and prejudices keep them from hiring those who have served time. It’s easy to see the record and ignore everything else about a person. Thankfully, non-profit organizations throughout the country are trying to bridge that gulf that still remains between the formerly incarcerated and the workplace.
Change comes eventually
Here in Seattle, Pioneer Human Services runs several businesses wherein the majority of the employees have criminal records. This reality can provide hope for those who are looking to rebuild their lives after serving time.
Pioneer Industries makes aircraft parts for companies including Boeing. As the aerospace industry starts to recover from a few rough years and other companies are having trouble keeping up with the demand, they have a competitive edge, according to one of their executives, by relying heavily on the talents of these workers.
Organizations like Pioneer Human Services and The Seattle Clemency Project say they’re finding a change in the attitude of some private businesses. This is, in part, because many employers are dealing with serious labor shortages. There’s also been a growing realization that people who can’t find jobs after being released from prison can too easily find themselves homeless, involved once again in criminal activity or both.
There are resources, both within the prison system and on the outside, to give people the training and education they need to find a good job and build a new life. In some cases, it’s possible to have a criminal record expunged or sealed or obtain a Certification of Restoration of Opportunity (CROP) that can further improve an individual’s ability to find employment. If you or a loved one is facing this challenge, seeking legal guidance can also be helpful.