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New Federal Programs Help Employers Hire People Returning from Prison

Posted May 26, 2023
4:10 pm

By Katherine Hollingsworth

In April 2022, the Biden-Harris Administration announced a plan to expand “Incarceration to Employment” opportunities for Americans returning to their communities from federal prison. The federal government is hoping this plan will increase employment, empower formerly incarcerated persons, and strengthen our communities and economy.

The plan includes many programs, such as:

Department of Labor and Department of Justice Partnership: The federal Departments of Justice and Labor launched a new partnership to invest $145 million in 2022 and 2023 to provide job skills training and individualized employment and reentry plans for people in federal prison, and to provide pathways for transition to employment and reentry support upon release.

Expanding Access to Business Capital: The federal Small Business Administration (SBA) removed barriers to eligibility based on irrelevant criminal history records for several of its microloan and loan programs. For example, the SBA got rid of the criminal record restrictions to access its Community Advantage loans, a program that provides loans to individuals with low-income and those from underserved communities.

Expanding Access to Federal Employment: The federal Office of Personnel Management has proposed a rule to remove barriers to federal employment for formerly incarcerated individuals under the Fair Chance to Compete for Jobs Act. Once this rule goes into effect, it will expand the jobs covered by the federal government’s “ban the box” policy, which prevents an employer from asking about an applicant’s criminal history until a conditional offer of employment has been made. The new rule will also create a process to make employers and hiring officials accountable for violating the “ban the box” procedures.

Leveraging Historic Investments in Infrastructure to Promote Hiring of Formerly Incarcerated Persons: The federal Department of Transportation has expanded access to jobs for formerly incarcerated persons and historically marginalized populations in the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act grant programs.

For more information on these programs, you can review the Biden Harris Administration Fact Sheet about expanding second chance opportunities for formerly incarcerated persons: FACT SHEET: Biden-Harris Administration Expands Second Chance Opportunities for Formerly Incarcerated Persons | The White House.

This article was published in Legal Aid's newsletter, "The Alert" Volume 39, Issue 1, in May 2023. See full issue at this link: “The Alert”- Volume 39, Issue 1 – Legal Aid Society of Cleveland

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