Easing Barriers for Ex-offenders

Earlier this month Charles Koch Institute senior fellow Vikrant Reddy participated in a panel hosted by the National Black Chamber of Commerce (NBCC). In the panel, Reddy addressed the integral part the business community can play in easing the re-entry of ex-offenders into productive jobs in society. When ex-offenders find employment, they are less likely to re-offend. Less recidivism reduces incarceration costs for taxpayers. But more than that, it means increased public safety, greater redemption for ex-offenders, and more restitution for victims.

During the panel, Reddy pointed out two tangible policies that might ease offender re-entry. First, Reddy suggested limiting liability for employers who hire ex-offenders. By doing so, an employer cannot be sued for negligent hiring or inadequate supervision solely because an employee has been convicted of an offense.

Instead, the employer’s liability would be limited to incidents where there is a direct relationship between the offense committed by the employee on the job and the type of conviction on the employee’s record. By reducing insurance costs and potential risk, this type of protection would incentivize employers to hire ex-offenders. The Texas Legislature passed such legislation in 2013, and Reddy recommended that other states consider similar reforms.

Reddy also discussed the importance of removing occupational licensing restrictions that serve as barriers to employment. He pointed to state licensing requirements that often prevent ex- offenders from earning the requisite license for certain types of employment based on their criminal history. Reddy explained that arbitrary barriers like these do not enhance public safety, and that the business community can be a strong advocate for removing obstacles like occupational licensing which prevent ex-offenders from re-integrating into productive positions.

Reducing barriers to ex-offender re-entry is an important element of criminal justice reform. Because it is likely to reduce recidivism, assisting ex-offenders in finding employment would help ensure that corrections resources are conserved and applied to their highest valued use, while respecting each individual’s dignity and desire to pursue a meaningful life through work.

The Charles Koch Institute is committed to criminal justice reform and easing barriers for ex-offenders. We’ll soon be in Indiana to discuss second chances in the Hoosier State, and in November, we’re hosting the Advancing Justice summit in New Orleans. We’ve also highlighted the dangers of occupational licensing in Locked Out, a project of Honest Enterprise. You can read more about our work on criminal justice and policing reform here.

More Blog Posts

05-20-2020 01:20pm

StoryCorps Connect During COVID-19: Finding a New Way to Share America’s Stories

StoryCorps pivots to digital to keep building connections between people during the pandemic.

Read more

05-19-2020 05:39pm

Free speech provides comfort during COVID-19 pandemic

Trying circumstances can also present opportunities for people to come together. When people feel as if they face a common challenge, differences and divisions begin to blur. That’s cause for optimism.

Read more

05-14-2020 11:20am

Five steps for public officials to protect public health, regain public trust, and ensure civil liberties during COVID-19 crisis

Americans and their public officials grapple with the dynamic while working to protect public health and maintain the public confidence necessary for successful adoptions of temporary measures and ultimately restoration of their full civil liberties. Charles Koch Institute Senior Fellow Casey Mattox offers advice on the subject.

Read more

Sign up for updates