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San Francisco Aims to Stir Up More Jobs Convicted Felons

Posted on: 11/30/2011

The job market today is brutal. In a down economy even those with impressive resumes and advanced degrees struggle to find work. For someone convicted of a felony the task of finding a job can seem impossible.  San Francisco Supervisor (and newly elected Sheriff) Ross Mirkarimi is trying to change that.

“Ex-felons are among the most challenged populations in getting work,” Mirkarimi says. What could possibly motivate businesses to hire more convicted felons? Mirkarimi’s answer is simple: money. Under the proposed plan businesses could see a one-time tax break of around $10,000 per new former convict hired full-time, less for part-time hires.

 San Francisco is not alone in trying to encourage jobs for felons. Other major cities, like Philadelphia, have also tried to implement incentives for employment, with mixed success. According to expert studies on crime, the chances of a felon returning to prison reduce dramatically if they get a new job within the first year after their release. Officials see jobs incentives not just as a chance to help out former convicts but a chance at crime reduction.

“This piece of legislation is crime prevention and public safety-oriented. It is aimed at reducing the repeat-offender rate — recidivism — which is in the range of 65 to 70 percent in San Francisco.”

The plan has been generally endorsed and supported by those in law enforcement and other government sectors. Some detractors claim it gives ex-felons an unfair advantage in a job market where so many need help. It remains to be seen how the public will react as the plan moves forward with the approval process.

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