Over time, the “F” in “felony” has become the new scarlet letter. Persons with criminal records (PCRs) are excluded from many opportunities critical for successful reentry into society, particularly employment. While this issue affects all individuals that have criminal records, including those who have been arrested but not charged or convicted, it particularly affects offenders leaving prison.
Common sense, research, and anecdotal evidence all show that if these released offenders do not secure stable employment, they are more likely to reoffend and return to prison. To decrease recidivism and increase the return on state investment in corrections, offenders need to be able to find jobs and keep them; however, there are several barriers to this goal. This paper addresses some of these barriers and recommends that Florida:
- Expand educational, vocational, and reentry programs to provide services to more inmates behind bars and ensure continued educational/employment assistance and support for PCRs post-release;
Implement a state complement to the federal Work Opportunity Tax Credit (WOTC) for employers who hire qualified ex-offenders; and
- Authorize judges and the Florida Commission on Offender Review to issue Certificates of Rehabilitation for PCRs who have completed sanctions and shown commitment to a crime- free life.