Frequently Asked Questions
“If I hire one ex-felon, won’t I open up the floodgates with applicants?”
As more and more companies begin hiring Second Chance Citizens, the focus on any one company is diminishing. But there are procedures you can follow to both help the individual and protect you from a potential barrage of calls. Some companies, like Nehemiah Manufacturing, will only consider hiring Second Chance Citizens who have proven themselves committed to working by completing a work-readiness program at one of the Beacon of Hope Social Service Affiliate offices. You can let the applicants know that your process is to hire from among candidates registered in those organizations – and deflect applications there.
"Why should I hire an ex-felon before I hire someone else?”
Good question. Every hire you make is a benefit to individuals and our community. But Second Chance Citizens might be worth special consideration because they have more to prove to you. Those who are sincerely ready to work and change their lives will double-down on dependability, loyalty, attitude and commitment. We wouldn’t want you to miss that great resource.
“Aren’t other companies better equipped to handle Second Chance Citizens?”
For the vast majority of Second Chance Citizens, they need entry-level unskilled positions to prove themselves and regain stability in their lives. However, a few are highly skilled and experienced and ready to be placed higher up in an organization. Every company that has the capacity to hire unskilled labor has something to gain from hiring Second Chance Citizens. By using the process we have outlined and relying on the network of support through our Social Service Affiliates you have what it takes to be successful from day one.
“I’m a Christian and I give money to feed the homeless. Isn’t that enough?”
Only you can answer that. When you give someone a good job, you not only feed the individual, but also their family…for a lifetime.
“Isn’t transportation an issue with people returning from prison?”
Less than 20% of returning citizens have their own transportation. The rest are not immediately self-mobile due to loss of vehicle, loss of license, unresolved traffic citations or other restrictions. Many of the Social Service Affiliates help pave ways to accommodate for this – especially if the job is on a bus line. Others can be more innovative with car-pooling or other solutions until the Second Chance Citizen gets reconnected with transportation over time (it typically over a year).
Even Cincinnati Metro is interested in being creative in finding solutions – especially to areas with high concentrations of businesses. Call your Social Service Affiliate and let them work with you to find solutions that work.
“Will I have a greater incidence of drug issues?”
If you do regular drug testing within your company, you will find that the incidence of drug use is the same – not more, not less – than the general population that you are hiring. Most heavy drug users are prescreened from employment and encouraged to engage in rehabilitation by the Social Service office that is working with them. Some Social Service Affiliates or the Temp Staffing Services they work with offer drug testing prior to hire. This is something you can request if it is important to you.
“Will I have an additional nuisance with parole meetings and the like?”
Yes, in some cases. If you are hiring someone who is on parole or probation, you will need to allow regular time for them to meet with their officer. This can work to your advantage as random drug testing can be part of the meeting. The threat of the test will keep many people clean.
“What government resources are available to protect me?”
In recent years, great strides have been made in the area of protection and support for companies who wish to hire returning citizens. Specifically you’ll find some level of protection with the CQE (Certificate of Qualification for Employment), and Federal Bonding Program. You can find great help in navigating this landscape from the Ohio Justice & Policy Center or on the Resources tab of our web site. The OJPC has issued a document that deftly outlines these and other support programs. Download The Redemption and Retention Gateway here. [download: The Redemption and Retention Gateway pdf]
“Is there grant money available for hiring Second Chance Citizens?”
It’s not a grant, but it is financial support. The Work Opportunity Tax Credit, administered in our state by the Ohio Department of Job and Family Services, offers employers a tax-credit of up to $2,400 per eligible worker. An eligible worker includes people with felony records within 1 year of their release from prison. The employer applies for this soon after the hire. Note: applications must be submitted to the Ohio WOTC Office within 28 days of the start to work date to meet the timely filing criteria. You can get the form at jfs.ohio.gov/wotc.
“Why should I join the Beacon of Hope Business Alliance?”
First and foremost, it’s a good business practice. Learning how to hire and develop Second Chance resources is good for business in creating greater productivity and retention. Even if you don’t have unskilled jobs to offer, you can still benefit by joining the alliance and offering jobs as a step-up once workers are proven solid and show desire to advance. If you are unable to hire those with a felony you can join us and support our efforts by advocating or donating to our mission. The effect is an immediate impact in building a stronger more vibrant community, reducing crime and reducing spending on prisons. It’s the fastest way to turn a tax burden into a tax-payer.
“What if I try one of these hires and it doesn’t work out?”
That will happen – it happens with regular hires and it will happen with your Second Chance hires. If for some reason, your Second Chance hire doesn’t work, it would be helpful to report the situation to your Social Service Affiliate so they can follow up and attempt to help the individual. But then try again with the hiring process for someone new. This due diligence is how you will be rewarded with incredibly loyal and hard-working resources.
“What rate should I offer?”
As you can imagine rates vary by company and location. However, many of our Second Chance Citizens take jobs that pay between $9.50 and $11.00 per hour. The livable wage target that we would encourage you to shoot for when possible is $12/hr. for a family of 3. As in anything, the higher the rate and benefits you offer, the better candidates you’ll attract.