The words “convicted felon” can quickly end a job interview, says the Wilmington News Journal. If you are concerned about reducing the crime rate, those are exactly the people who need jobs, says Jack McDonough, chief of the U.S. Probation Office in Delaware. McDonough’s office has joined the national Workforce Development Program, to reduce recidivism and get ex-offenders back into the mainstream. The federal Office of Probation and Pretrial Services says that 22 of the 94 federal court districts have started to implement the program and 12 more — including Delaware — are expected to begin soon.
If an ex-convict has a job at the start and end of supervised release, the success rate is 85 percent, meaning no new arrests. More than 70 percent of unemployed probationers end up back in jail within three years. The Workforce Development Program promotes “not just any employment, but meaningful employment,” McDonough said. The program offers a variety of incentives to employers. A $2,400 tax credit for each ex-offender employed with the business — as well as bonding, or insurance — is provided. McDonough is reshaping his office to make it more like an employment center. Sports Illustrated and other magazines were removed from the lobby and replaced with employment and training materials. The office plans to hold weekly résumé workshops and conduct mock interviews.