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Economy

The Case For Hiring Ex-Offenders

New research shows how keeping people with criminal records out of the workforce costs us.
Carnell Carter fills out a self-survey of his work skills while working at a branch office of the state's WorkSource agency the Pierce County Community Justice Center in Tacoma, Wash.
Carnell Carter fills out a self-survey of his work skills while working at a branch office of the state's WorkSource agency the Pierce County Community Justice Center in Tacoma, Wash. Ted S. Warren/AP

Beleaguered former presidential candidate Hillary Clinton was in the news again recently when a excerpt from her 1996 book It Takes a Village turned up on Twitter. In the selected passage, Clinton described prison labor in questionable terms during her time living in Arkansas’s governor’s mansion in the 1980s:


Concerned netizens have been debating passionately about whether the above passage constitutes slavery, and rightfully so. But it’s also worth questioning Clinton’s assumption that the prison laborers were unsafe to begin with. Ultimately, she came to the realization many employers arrive at, which is that people with criminal records do not necessarily make for bad or unsafe workers. But it’s those kinds of assumptions that keep people with criminal records excluded from the workforce, especially when they’re released from prison, and at great consequence to the economy.