Sep 7, 2010

From Prison to Employment: San Quentin Prison's Job Fair and the Upper Manhattan Reentry Task Force's Upcoming Reentry Business Breakfast

Via, San Quentin Prison recently hosted a Green Jobs fair, bringing over 60 employers and job training centers together to in what "organizers are claiming to be the first ever Green Jobs Fair held inside a California prison." The event, organized by California Reentry Program and Insight Prison Project,  represents the type of pipeline to employment that, coupled with pre-release planning and support services, can greatly improve an individuals likelihood for success upon leaving prison. Despite laws that protect individuals with criminal records from discrimination, identifying employers that are willing to look beyond the stigma of a record and interview individuals that are qualified for employment represents one of the most difficult challenges for individuals reentering their communities. Both the employers who attended the job fair and those who organized it, should be commended for this event.

While the reentry community understands employers' initial hesitancy around interviewing a candidate whose job application includes a conviction, we also know from experience interviewing and hiring qualified, dedicated, and motivated individuals who have served prison terms, that excluding these individuals is not always the best business decision. When an employer discards a job application because an individual has checked a box indicating they have a conviction, the employer may miss out on the opportunity to hire a loyal and enthusiastic individual who is eager to support his/her family, appreciative of the chance to work, and who has a diverse set of skills to offer. The employer also misses out on tax incentives, on the opportunity to save capital by using Workforce Intermediaries who will provide free screening, training, and retention services, and to improve the business climate in their neighborhood by strengthening their community.  Additionally, employers may subject themselves to costly law suits if they violate their state's anti-discrimination laws that protect individuals with convictions.

Continuing our efforts to strengthen pathways to employment for individuals with histories of incarceration,  the Upper Manhattan Reentry Task Force in collaboration with the Manhattan District Attorney's Office, the Manhattan Chamber of CommerceThe Doe Fund, and the Community Service Society will  host a Reentry Business Breakfast on November 9, 2010  to educate employers operating businesses in Manhattan on why hiring qualified and work-ready individuals with histories of convictions is good for their bottom line. The event will offer specific information on tax benefits available for employers who hire recently released individuals, New York State’s bonding program which insulates employers from economic losses, and will introduce employers to New York City's Workforce Intermediaries who provide free services to employers by helping them identify and retain qualified workers.

Manhattan's District Attorney, Cyrus Vance, will serve as the keynote speaker.

This event is by invitation only. If you are a New York City employer, or know of any employers in New York City interested in attending this event, please email me at