Port Covington exec: We will hire ex-offenders
I would like to thank Vanessa Bright for her op-ed highlighting the challenges faced by “returning citizens” — those who have previously been incarcerated. (“Port Covington should commit to hiring ex-offenders,” Nov. 2.)
Earlier this year, I sat in the Roosevelt Room at the White House as one of a small group of business leaders from across industry sectors and from around the country, all of whom had signed the president’s “Fair Chance Business Pledge.” This pledge states that we will do everything possible to smooth the path to employment for returning citizens, many of whom are nonviolent and fully reintegrated into society and their families but chronically unemployed due to the structural barriers traditionally inherent in the hiring process.
This summer, I participated in a panel convened by Rep. Elijah Cummings to discuss the documentary “The Return,” which tells the story of formerly incarcerated men returning to society after their exorbitant “three-strikes” sentences for minor crimes were overturned. Both of these experiences, as well as my conversations across Baltimore’s communities, have highlighted for me the need for employers to demonstrate real leadership on this issue.
Some of the solutions are simple: remove any requirement to identify criminal history until a job offer has already been made, and restrict any information about such history to a small group within the HR office. These practices work well in an office setting and can remove obstacles for qualified applicants.
Other solutions are structural and generational in nature, and require a multifaceted approach at the policy level, in the work of nonprofit providers and government entities assisting with re-entry, and through the actions of employers. Through our new workforce development program and through our hiring practices, it is our intention in Port Covington to be aggressive in hiring a diverse, local workforce, including returning citizens. Ms. Bright can rest assured that our guiding principle is as follows — that anyone who is ready and willing to work can have a real and fair chance to find a job, a career, an opportunity, a future.