Most Americans Agree: Second Chances Make Sense

A new survey from the talent acquisition company, Kelly, shows that 70% of “Americans say employers should eliminate blanket-bans that automatically reject job seekers with minor, non-violent criminal offenses on their record.” This national sentiment is reflected in President Biden’s proclamation of Second Chances Month.

CDIA agrees that, as President Biden said,

America’s criminal justice system must offer meaningful opportunities for redemption and rehabilitation.  After incarcerated individuals serve their time, they should have the opportunity to fully reintegrate into society.  It benefits not just those individuals but all of society, and it is the best strategy to reduce recidivism.  During Second Chance Month, we lift up all those who, having made mistakes, are committed to rejoining society and making meaningful contributions.

In an era of partisanship, second chances transcends party lines. For example, in 2019, U.S. Sens. James Lankford (R-OK), Rob Portman (R-OH), Amy Klobuchar (D-MN), and Dick Durbin (D-IL), “introduced a resolution to designate April 2019 as ‘Second Chance Month’ and to honor those who work to remove unnecessary barriers that prevent individuals with a criminal record from becoming productive members of society.” The press release from Sen. Lankford noted how, in 2018, “the Senate passed the First Step Act, which provides federal inmates programming opportunities to avoid their return to jail upon release; provides enhanced prison security and officer safety; gives non-violent offenders the opportunity to be productive members of society when they finish serving their sentence; and provides other reforms.”

Kelly’s Equity@Work survey of adults in the U.S. shows strong support for second-chance initiatives:

  • 64% of Americans say non-violent mistakes made in the past should not automatically disqualify a person from being able to find employment.
  • 71% agree employers should eliminate or reduce blanket-bans that automatically reject job seekers with minor, non-violent criminal offenses.
  • 76% are more likely to support businesses committed to breaking down discriminatory barriers that prevent Americans from finding employment.
  • 81% say companies should do more to remove discriminatory hiring policies or practices that keep people from being hired or promoted.
  • 90% say access to employment is important to have a good quality of life in America.