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Senate committee considers “Earning Safe Reentry Through Work Act”

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In today’s tight labor market, more employers are turning to alternative talent pools to fill jobs — including justice-involved individuals.

Keeping a job has been shown to greatly reduce recidivism. Research shows that previously incarcerated people are much less likely to re-offend when they have stable, full-time employment. For example, recidivism rates were nearly cut in half for justice-involved individuals with a full-time job compared to those who are unemployed, according to a Truman Policy Research study.

While working to safeguard the state’s economy from habitual, dangerous offenders, the Missouri Chamber is also supporting policies that would incentivize nonviolent incarcerated Missourians to pursue prison work experiences that will prepare them for jobs after they are released.

Under House Bill 2088, nonviolent offenders who are on probation, parole, or conditional release may earn work-for-time credit for reduction of their supervision by maintaining eligible employment.

This legislation, which has already passed in the House, was considered by a Senate committee on April 25. It is sponsored by Rep. Derek Grier, a Republican from Chesterfield. If approved by the committee, the bill will be eligible for debate on the Senate floor.

The Missouri Chamber testified in favor of the bill.

Up to 75 percent of formerly incarcerated Americans are still jobless a year after their release, according to the National Institute of Justice. Data show that ex-offenders, typically eager to keep a job when they find one, often make the most loyal employees. Workers with criminal records tend to stay in their jobs longer and are less likely to leave, a Northwestern University study found. This study also found former inmates were no more likely to be fired than other employees.

Missouri employers who hire justice-involved job seekers can also help offset risk by participating in the Federal Bonding Program, developed in 1966 by the U.S. Dept. of Labor to empower businesses to take a chance on ex-offenders.

For more information, contact Carol Mitchell, Missouri Chamber general counsel, at cmitchell@mochamber.com or 573-634-3511.

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