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March 21, 2017

Survey: CT biz willing to hire formerly imprisoned

Ninety-seven percent of more than 300 Connecticut employers surveyed by the Malta Justice Initiative support the idea of giving formerly incarcerated individuals a second chance, the organization reports.

What’s more, of the 55 percent of employers who said they have difficulty in finding qualified candidates to fill jobs, most of those -- 76 percent -- said they would consider hiring a person with a criminal record if that individual was qualified for the job.

The survey of 311 employers, conducted by Harris Poll for Malta between June and October of 2016, also found that 95 percent of respondents agreed that hiring a previously incarcerated individual has the potential to turn that person into a productive member of society.

The Southport-based Malta Justice Initiative is led by Connecticut business leaders with a mission to educate the public and employers about the benefits of justice reform and of hiring formerly incarcerated individuals.

The survey also found only 9 percent of respondents had significant experience in hiring previously incarcerated individuals, while 51 percent had little experience, and 40 percent had never done so. Only 3 percent of employers said they actively try to hire people with criminal records.

The findings parallel federal statistics that show nearly all individuals who get and keep jobs do not return to prison.

John Santa, retired executive of Santa Energy and the chairman and founder of Malta Justice Initiative, said the upside to hiring these job candidates includes filling vacancies.

Connecticut releases about 10,000 individuals from state prisons each year, and more than half return to prison within three years at a cost of $51,000 per year, per inmate – the third highest cost in the country. Statistics show that when Connecticut citizens who are released from prison actually do get jobs, the recidivism rate falls by 40 percent, down to 10 percent.

Another 74 percent of employers reported that with incentives and support, such as tax credits or subsidies for health care coverage, they would be more inclined to make the hires.

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