Governor Encourages Companies To Hire Former Convicts

Gov. Mike Pence says if former convicts are employed, they are less likely to return to jail, which saves the state money.

Governor Pence

Photo: Brandon Smith/IPBS

Governor Mike Pence discusses the benefits of HIRE at a press conference on Tuesday, June 4, 2013.

Governor Mike Pence is encouraging more companies to take part in HIRE, a state program that helps former convicts reenter the workforce.

Of the more than 20,000 people released from Indiana prisons each year, the Department of Corrections reports 36 percent return to prison within three years.  The recidivism rate climbs to 60 percent if the person is unemployed.

The Hoosier Initiative for Re-Entry, or HIRE program was created last year to provide inmates a path to the workforce.

Governor Mike Pence says helping people stay out of prison saves the state money.

“By working to help citizens re-enter society, become reliable workers, if 500 ex-offenders remain employed and out of trouble with the law, that actually would save Hoosiers some $4 million a year,” Pence says.

About 200 Indiana employers have hired more than 600 ex-cons since the program began last April, which Pence says generated $8 million last year for the state.

Department of Workforce Development Commissioner Scott Sanders says his agency, along with the Department of Corrections, provides education and training to inmates to prepare them for the workforce.

He also says his department works with employers to assure them that the ex-offenders they hire have been strenuously screened.

“There’s no gang affiliation with any of these individuals that come through the program, co disciplinary action,” he says. “They pretty much have to have a clean slate in prison for about two years. They also have to have an ability to have a job and hold a job while in prison.”

Sanders notes there is a federal tax credit for companies who hire ex-offenders, providing greater incentive to companies to take part in the program.

Brandon Smith, IPBS

Brandon Smith, IPBS has previously worked as a reporter and anchor for KBIA Radio in Columbia, MO, and at WSPY Radio in Plano, IL as a show host, reporter, producer and anchor. Brandon graduated from the University of Missouri-Columbia with a Bachelor of Journalism in 2010, with minors in political science and history. He was born and raised in Chicago.

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