Top U.S. businesses and industry groups on Tuesday pledged to consider hiring candidates with criminal backgrounds, a campaign that comes ahead of the expected annual release of hundreds of thousands of previously incarcerated individuals due to a sweeping criminal justice bill President Trump signed into law last year.
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Companies including IBM and Walmart, along with the U.S. Chamber of Commerce – which counts Caterpillar, Ford Motor Co. and American Airlines among its members – signed on to the initiative led by the Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM) and the Charles Koch Institute.
“We play a big role in ensuring that employers hire and give consideration to people with arrest records," SHRM CEO Johnny Taylor Jr. told Fox Business. "And then more importantly, we need to give companies the tools to do it properly."
“We will produce the toolkit, we will distribute it. We just need you to sign this page to ask your members to hire," he added.
Taylor said the group plans to track the nearly 700,000 previously incarcerated individuals to be released annually as a result of the so-called “First Step Act” to see how many have obtained jobs, as well as how many have retained them.
“We know that without jobs a number of the people are likely to re-incarcerate,” he said.
And in a competitive job market with decades-low unemployment numbers, Taylor argues that candidates with criminal backgrounds – which amounts to one in three U.S. adults -- tend to be more loyal and stay in positions longer.
|AAL||AMERICAN AIRLINES GROUP INC.||30.21||-0.36||-1.18%|
|IBM||INTERNATIONAL BUSINESS MACHINES CORP.||139.18||-0.27||-0.19%|
|F||FORD MOTOR COMPANY||8.51||-0.03||-0.35%|
While criminal justice reform was a top legislative target for key U.S. lawmakers for years, such a measure was historically difficult to advance due to intense opposition from conservative senators.
With Trump’s backing, Congress approved a package in December that provides federal judges more authority in the sentencing of those with nonviolent crimes, offers pathways for the incarcerated to participate in programs that can help reduce their stay in prisons and places offenders in facilities closer to their families, among other things.
It was signed into law on Dec. 21.