« Eleventh Circuit panel deepens circuit split by holding fugitive status does not serve to toll term of supervised release | Main | CCJ publishes big new data resource, "The Footprint," which seeks to track the size of America's criminal justice system »

September 12, 2023

Is "criminal justice reform" really now a "corporate priority"?

The question in the title of this post is prompted by this article in the September issue of D CEO magazine headlined "How Criminal Justice Reform Is Becoming a Corporate Priority." Here are some excerpts from an extended piece:

Research shows that 70 to 100 million Americans have a criminal record, around one in three working-age adults. Sixty percent of them are unemployed a year after leaving prison. This group is underutilized and bypassed for the millions of jobs that remain open across all industries, but the winds are shifting.

Justice-impacted individuals face several challenges to reentering the workforce and staying out of trouble. These barriers, imposed by legislation, law enforcement, employers, and society, make it more likely that they’ll run afoul of the law again. But several businesses are taking the bold step to be the leading edge of the movement to put this group of people to work....

The Responsible Business Initiative for Justice compiled data to show that justice-impacted individuals compare well to the average employee. A survey of human resource professionals and managers found that 83 percent rated the job performance of justice-impacted individuals to be as good or better than the average worker, and about three-fourths found that justice-impacted workers are as or more dependable than the average employee. Seventy percent said job retention was also better for justice-impacted individuals....

This potential labor force faces many barriers, experts say. First, employers must be willing to take a chance on justice-impacted applicants. Second, those individuals need access to various services to help them get up to speed and become stable and ready to enter the workforce. And lastly, policies need to be updated to help people transition. Success will require progress in all three areas....

Advocacy can take many forms for corporations. On one end are organizations like JPMorgan Chase & Co., whose chairman and CEO Jamie Dimon penned an op-ed in The New York Times about second-chance hiring. The financial services giant has been a leader in the space, advocating in Texas for clean slate legislation that would automatically seal criminal records where individuals had met time and good behavior requirements, so people don’t have to hire a lawyer to get it done....

JPMorgan ... is a member of the Second Chance Business Coalition, which also includes North Texas companies such as Vistra and American Airlines.  Together, they work with community partners to train and hire justice-impacted individuals and advocate for changes to laws that would help them more easily re-integrate into society. In addition to clean slate initiatives, many organizations (including the conservative-leaning Texas Public Policy Foundation) advocate for ending debt-based driver’s license restrictions....

Becoming involved with criminal justice reform looks different for every business. Some companies will have jobs that fit nearly every justice-involved individual well. In contrast, others might be limited because of size or regulatory issues that don’t allow them to hire people directly after incarceration. Connecting to an advocacy organization can help pave the way, as will speaking with peer companies and becoming more informed about opportunities.

I think this article would have be headlined more accurately if is was titled "Why Reentry Reform Should Become a Corporate Priority," since the piece is primarily making the case for why businesses should give more attention to so-called "second-chance" hiring and reentry issues.  Still, I found it notable to see this article in a Dallas business magazine, and also notable that it ends with this link to another long piece which details the "personal criminal justice reform stories of three North Texas business leaders."

September 12, 2023 at 09:15 AM | Permalink


You don't need to seal criminal records before companies can hire people with criminal records. You just need to persuade the companies that a criminal record is not a reason to reject an applicant.

The reason for sealing criminal records is to keep others in the dark about the past of the person that they are hiring (or otherwise associating with).

I will be the first to agree that not all prior crimes reflect poorly on a person. A minor in possession conviction tells me very little about the college graduate that I am hiring to work in my accounting department that I am not already assuming (that she probably has an occasional beer or mixed drink on social occasions). On the other hand, a prior fraud conviction would be a definite warning sign before hiring anybody for a position with any financial responsibility. But what crimes are significant will depend on the job and its responsibilities which should be a decision for the company.

In an age in which a major complain is that government records and processes are not open enough, it is ironic that there is a movement to close the very type of government record (court records) that have traditionally been open.

Posted by: tmm | Sep 12, 2023 2:08:32 PM

I agree that there are likely some low level criminals who should be given an opportunity by businesses, but tmm nails it. The government should not be hiding the ball from corporations. Convince them to make that decision.

The second paragraph of the article raises some red flags. It is at best slippery or sloppy, and at worst dishonest:

“Research shows that 70 to 100 million Americans have a criminal record, around one in three working-age adults. Sixty percent of them are unemployed a year after leaving prison.”

Those with a criminal record and those who have been to prison are overlapping but not the same group. Most with a criminal record never see a prison. So, it’s not sixty percent of 100 million, or 70 million. It’s sixty percent of a much smaller number.

Posted by: TarlsQtr | Sep 12, 2023 3:07:11 PM

However, there is one cohort who are in need of employment, financial stability, social support, and an opportunity for redemption - some moreso than others. I'm speaking of non-violent sex offenders who are routinely denied employment due to the nature of their crime. It's tragic that the panic over sex offenses seeps down to every crevice of our society. (Recidivism rates for this cohort are the lowest, next to murderers - less than 5%, and not the "frightening and high 70-80% rate" sited by Justice Kennedy in McCune v Lyle 536 U.S. 24,33 (2002)), a tragically erroneous decision to say the least).

See also:

Property managers will not rent housing to folks with such convictions on their record. Their presence is prohibited within various distances from schools, parks, bus stops and "places where children tend to congregate", even though their offense may not have involved children at all.
Many companies, perhaps most, either private or publicly owned, site their insurance policies that direct them to exclude those with such offenses. Who will convince the actuaries that this is based on outdated and irrational beliefs of these folks?

If we are truly dedicated to reduce re-offending, then we need to put on our big boy pants and stop living in a sexual panic about sex-based offenses.

And no, I am not diminishing the severity of their offense in any respect. But there are about 1 MILLION that live amongst us. These citizens have paid their debt to society and now desperately need to rebuild their lives.

Heaping endless shame upon them and excluding them from all facets of society (especially through the use of public offender registries, denial of public services, denial of housing, and denial of meaningful employment) serves only to increase their sense of shame, increase levels of stress, drive them into isolation and depression - all serving to increase the risk of recidivism. Is this in our best self-interest?

Posted by: SG | Sep 12, 2023 11:04:02 PM


It’s a contradiction to laud low recidivism rates and turn around to say the punishment is increasing recidivism.

Posted by: TarlsQtr | Sep 13, 2023 2:02:12 AM


Perhaps if we take our collective knees off the necks of these folks the recidivism rate would be close to zero, and there would even fewer new victims.

The point is that we are doing just about nothing to help and doing just about everything to make it more difficult. Why do we do this? It is sheer lunacy.

Should we punish more just for punishment sake? Or perhaps because we as a society want to "make a statement" that will make us 'feel better' and make them 'feel worse'. I understand that we find such offenses morally abhorrent, but this does NOT justify unwarranted punishment. Again, we miss an opportunity to Make America Great Again (which, I assume you proudly proclaim on your hat every day).

Posted by: SG | Sep 13, 2023 3:30:42 AM

As usual, your assumption would be incorrect. I’ve never voted for Trump, not even in a primary.

People have the right to know who they are hiring, renting to, or asking to watch their kids.

If a criminal is more likely to commit a sex crime again out of frustration, then he was always threat to do it. I’d much rather the chomo endure the negative consequences of his own actions than leave people in the dark. A businessman has every right to have that information and make a decision. .

Posted by: TarlsQtr | Sep 13, 2023 12:15:03 PM


If you were an employer and you based your hiring decision as you have now just outlined, you yourself would be a criminal (at least in California).

"The California Fair Chance Act protects job applicants from discrimination based on their criminal history. The law, which became effective on January 1, 2018, limits when and what employers can ask about criminal history".

It is apparent that more reasonable minds than yours (that is, the elected representatives of the citizens of the State of Ca.) fortunately stepped in, preventing unnecessarily discriminatory hiring practices, negatively impacting thousands who seek to rebuild their lives, which you seemingly put last on your list of priorities.

It is against the law to base decisions of employment on a criminal record, absent a specific, articulable and reasonable justification (e.g., you operate a "daycare center").

And I have serious doubts about which hat you don.

Posted by: SG | Sep 13, 2023 3:08:58 PM

Tarls wrote (above):

"...the punishment is increasing recidivism".

Seems that Tarls speaks outloud the dirty little secret that our government has long denied and has argued against, both in and out of courts - that is that: public sex offender registries, as well as a host of other conditions and restrictions improvidently heaped upon these citizens ...are in fact "PUNISHMENTS".

Such "punishments" are imposed after sex offenders have already served their sentences (that is, "already been punished").

And because some state and federal courts (including the U.S. Sup. Ct.) have disingenuously deemed that these "restrictions and conditions" are not "punishments" at all, and therefore, the affected citizens have no standing to argue "due process violation".

Such rulings would fit quite nicely in either a Franz Kafka or George Orwell novel.

Posted by: SG | Sep 13, 2023 6:35:43 PM


Call it punishment, consequences, whatever you want. I really don’t give a damn.

I don’t live in California, nor would I.

You are good for a chuckle, though. Calling California representatives “reasonable minds,” is a real laugher. I’d say the millions fleeing the hellscape are the reasonable ones. Only far leftists could kill the golden goose that was California.

And, damn right I discriminate. Every. Single. Day. Life is all about discriminating. When I hire, I discriminate against anyone without the work ethic I’m looking for, the ability to bring value to the operation, or those who may harm customers and other employees. It is not my job or “priority,” to fix the mess of a life someone else made for himself.

As far as what hat I don, you have doubts because you live in the typical binary bubble.

Posted by: TarlsQtr | Sep 13, 2023 9:22:55 PM


And what really fits into an Orwell novel is the concept that the criminals are the victims.

Posted by: TarlsQtr | Sep 13, 2023 9:26:08 PM

I would love to be there to see the dumb and stunned look on your face when you read excerpts from this article:

From the Sept. 4, 2023 online publication, "CHRON." (and please save your efforts to dismiss this publication as being left-leaning and biased, as you folks predictably do. "Chron" is published by the Houston Chronicle, owned by the Hearst Corporation, hardly a left-leaning corporation):

"...in 2021, Houston ranked No. 2 for growing tech markets during the pandemic. However, the policies Gov. Abbott has pushed have led some to think Texas is now among the WORST states to live and work...As a result, people are MOVING OUT of the Lone Star State, or at the very least are considering it. Using U.S. Postal Service data, (Business) Insider found that from January to May this year, Austin saw the fifth-largest net OUTWARD MIGRATION among major U.S. cities, trailing New York, Los Angeles, and Houston, which actually ranked No. 1 among cities that saw the MOST PEOPLE LEAVE during that stretch".

"Gov. Greg Abbott courted Californians by promising "less government" and "smarter regulations," and in 2021, Houston ranked No. 2 for growing tech markets during the pandemic. HOWEVER, the policies Abbott has pushed have led some to think Texas is now among the WORST states to live and work".


Who lives in a bubble?

Posted by: SG | Sep 14, 2023 3:18:53 AM


Personally, I choose to seek out accurate facts and science to help form my opinions and beliefs.

But when you proudly admit that you choose to discriminate based upon ridiculous antiquated beliefs, falsehoods, personal prejudices and outright lies only serves to make you appear more foolish and less credible in the eyes of reasonable, respectable and intelligent people. Why are you so proud of that?

Signed: "Puzzled in California"

Posted by: SG | Sep 14, 2023 3:33:18 AM


Glad to see we agree about human life starting at conception and sex/gender is based on chromosomes and not personal feelings! It IS science, after all!

You have provided no facts or “science” to contradict my position. A businessperson’s job is not that of a social services worker.

As far as Texas, I would love to see the “dumb and stunned look on your face,” when you realize that the two cities in Texas you use to illustrate the point are among the most liberal in the country. Austin is so much so that Abbot is now having to send state police to the city to patrol it. “Defund the police,” has gutted the APD.

Texas’ second biggest problem is illegal immigration, again, caused by mindless liberals in DC.

In the end, the numbers are clear. Voters are fleeing California, NY, Illinois, etc., for Florida, Texas, and other red states.

Posted by: TarlsQtr | Sep 14, 2023 2:55:55 PM

Post a comment

In the body of your email, please indicate if you are a professor, student, prosecutor, defense attorney, etc. so I can gain a sense of who is reading my blog. Thank you, DAB