Davisson: Jobs help ex-offenders stay out of prison

Posted by: Abigail Campbell  | Friday, October 5, 2018

More than 20,000 inmates are released from Indiana prisons each year, and statistics show ex-offenders are 60 percent more likely to return to jail after three years if they do not find a job. Meaningful employment after incarceration is crucial to regaining a stable life. To help those looking to start a new chapter, Indiana offers programs to curb recidivism and support those after incarceration.   

Some Hoosiers may find it difficult to find work due to their criminal history. To help reintegrate ex-offenders into the workforce, the Indiana Department of Workforce Development offers the Hoosier Initiative for Re-Entry program or HIRE. 

The initiative was recently recognized as a national model for its success in training and placing ex-offenders back into the workforce. This program establishes and cultivates strong employer-employee relationships and prepares individuals with the skills needed to be job ready. With a 99 percent retention rate, HIRE secured more than 10,000 jobs for ex-offenders by working with more than 1,200 employers annually. This program also has a significant impact on our state. According to the DWD, the estimated incarceration cost to taxpayers per inmate is $20,000 per year. HIRE helps curb those costs by working with employers to connect ex-offenders with stable jobs.

Employers looking to get involved in the HIRE program can visit in.gov/dwd and follow the “Employer Service” tab to the Hoosier Initiative for Re-Entry portal. Information is available on the community impact of the HIRE program along with theft insurance and tax credit opportunities for employers.

Indiana also offers the Second Chance Law, which allows rehabilitated offenders to request certain, low-level offenses like theft, drunken driving and drug dealing to be expunged from their records after 5 to 10 years. This removes common barriers for many Hoosiers looking for employment after conviction. Visit in.gov/isp/CriminalHistory.htm for more information.

Like ex-offenders, stable employment is often imperative for drug abusers to find their way to recovery and sobriety. This year, I worked on a law to help tackle both Indiana’s workforce shortage and the drug addiction epidemic by creating a voluntary employee substance abuse treatment program. This law provides a structured pathway in which employers may provisionally hire job applicants struggling with addiction.

Support during the first steps to reintegration into the community or sobriety are important, and every possible effort should be made to give individuals the help they need. Email hire@dwd.in.gov to get involved and connect with our regional HIRE representatives and correctional facilities. As always, if you have any other questions or input, contact me at 312-232-9769 or h73@iga.in.gov.

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State Rep. Steve Davisson (R-Salem) represents House District 73,

Washington County, and portions of Orange, Lawrence, Jackson, Clark and Harrison counties. 

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