Mitigating the Risk of Hiring Returning Citizens

One of the primary concerns expressed by returning citizens is the difficulty that they face when looking for employment. Even when job applicants are highly skilled or certified in a certain trade, employers are still reluctant to hire people who have a criminal record. This is especially true when the record involves violence or a drug crime, but also applies to people convicted of nonviolent offenses and misdemeanors. While the “Ban the Box” initiative has perhaps had some positive effect in this area, many employers still refuse to hire people convicted of certain offenses, even when there is no clear connection between that offense and the qualification for the job. Moreover, certain employers who might be interested in hiring returning citizens are barred from doing so by law.

In this project, students surveyed local businesses to determine how employers assess the risk that returning citizen employees pose and to understand employers’ perceptions of any civil liability they might face if these employees were to commit a crime during the course of business. Based on this information, students then worked to conceptualize an insurance/bonding agency that would insure employers against the risks posed by hiring returning citizens. It would cover, for example, theft by employees; profits lost from no-notice no-shows; loss or injuries incurred from a violent incident in the workplace; etc.