America today has more than seventy million inhabitants with a criminal record, and this number is growing faster than any other identifiable demographic in the country. This is a huge number of people who are having trouble finding work and making ends meet; often, the particulars of a person’s crime don’t matter nearly as much to a prospective employer as the fact that they have a record. One of the reasons why a high percentage of convicted felons re-offend is that they invariably face huge barriers to finding gainful employment, jobs that pay a living wage and allow them to successfully re-integrate with society.

Here are 5 reasons why you might want to consider hiring a convicted felon:

Hard-Working Individuals

While this is not universally true, it is demonstrably prevalent to the point where it should not be discounted. Ex-convicts are often intimately familiar with the concept of hard work. Many were compelled to break the law in the first place due to economic factors, and they are often grateful for the chance to demonstrate their value to family, friends, employers, and society at large. By giving ex-convicts an opportunity to demonstrate that they have reformed, you send a positive message to the local community as a whole, and you discourage re-offending.

Punctuality and Reliability

At first glance, it may seem exploitative, but ex-convicts tend to be both more reliable and more punctual than other employees. They are well-adjusted to operating on a routine, as this is a frequent coping mechanism used to help with reintegration. They are also keenly aware of the fact that, if they risk their employ, they will have very few options available to them. If treated fairly, ex-cons are among the most reliable employees available.

Long-term Employee Loyalty

With all the trouble they face finding employment, ex-felons tend to stay with a company that will hire them for a long time. It isn’t simply out of necessity, either; after a while, a skilled employee with a good record might be able to shop their skills around, regardless of various prior criminal affairs. However, these are human beings, who frequently show a considerable amount of appreciation and gratitude toward the person or organization that will provide for them when nobody else will. By coupling that with decent wages, fair treatment, and a lack of workplace hostility, you virtually assure yourself of long-term retention.

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A Large, Diversified Hiring Pool

America’s demographic of formerly incarcerated persons isn’t just growing in size, or proportion; it’s also expanding across all walks of life. As such, it represents a diversified talent pool of individuals who offer a wide range of skills and abilities, across all levels of viable experience. This includes individuals with exceptional qualifications for virtually any job in existence, all of whom will be having a difficult time finding employment — and some of them have years, or even decades’ worth of academic and professional experience. A wide range of experts in traditional trades are also heavily represented here, since vocational training is often available behind bars.

Work Opportunity Tax Credit

The Work Opportunity Tax Credit is one of several tax incentives available which will reward employers for hiring ex-cons. It is awarded to those businesses and other organizations who make it a practice to hire people from specific target groups, those who have traditionally faced substantial social barriers to employment. In addition to criminals, this incentive also applies to disabled American veterans, impoverished youth, and the long-term unemployed.

By hiring a convicted felon, you are gaining an employee from a demographic that is historically grateful for the opportunity to re-integrate with society in a constructive fashion. In addition, you help to send a message about the potential suitability of ex-cons to the professional workplace, and in so doing you work towards reducing the problem of one of the largest traditionally “unemployable” demographics in our nation’s history.