‘Second Chance’ gives former convicts another shot at employment

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Gov. Doug Ducey signed an executive order restricting state agencies from asking about an applicants criminal history until after they are interviewed.

The Second Check Box executive order is a measure to reduce recidivism. Currently, 39 percent of ex-inmates in Arizona are repeat offenders. With the new executive order in place, former convicts will have the opportunity to meet their potential employer without the stigma of their past.

Chalon Hutson, Field Director for Generation Opportunity, says this gives ex-inmates a better chance of integrating back into society.

Ted Simons: Coming up on Arizona Horizon, a new state policy designed to give people with criminal records a second chance in the job market.

Governor Doug Ducey recently asked state agency’s to change their hiring practices in order to give people with criminal histories a second chance. Here now to tell us more about the program is Chalon Hutson, field director for "Generation Opportunity," an organization that supports the policy change. Welcome to "Arizona Horizon."

Chalon Hutson: Thank you for having me on.

Ted Simons: Second chance box. What is that?

Chalon Hutson: What the second chance box does, the executive order by governor Ducey's office, it's for those with a felony on their record. They have paid their debt to society. They want to be productive members of society. They have served their time, so the executive order takes state agencies, when you apply for a job on the state application there is a box that says I have a felony. It takes the hiring process and delays it to further in the hiring process to give people more opportunities and give state agencies more candidates.

Ted Simons: Is this for state agencies and security clearances?

Chalon Hutson: As far as I know it's the first part of the hiring process and delays it to the second part of the process. One of the common arguments against it, we don't want people with a fraud background in the accounting agency or something. During the second portion of the hiring process, they can do a background check, anything they need to do, but it gives people with a record an opportunity to show their worth, make their case that they should be employed by the state agency.

Ted Simons: I was going to say, why shouldn't it be disclosed. I can see the other side saying it's going to happen second phase, might as well get it over the first.

Chalon Hutson: A lot of people want to have more opportunity and become law-abiding citizens. People when they don't have job opportunities. They don't have the opportunity to get jobs.

Ted Simons: How often do we know that once the box is checked, out the window it goes?

Chalon Hutson: I know it's quite often. On the recidivism, Arizona has 40% rate. Four out of ten prisoners go back to prison within three years. That's unacceptable. Giving more people the ability to participate in the workforce will lower that number.

Ted Simons: 39 or 40%, whatever the recidivism rate is, most are going back because they don't have a job.

Ted Simons: Is employment the number one reason or a major factor over all.

Chalon Hutson: It's one of the biggest factors. We want people to have the same opportunities that everybody else does when they apply for a job. They want to make their case to become employed.

Ted Simons: The whole idea is, basically, you don't have to check the box which disqualifies the application. Often disqualifies.

Chalon Hutson: Exactly.

Ted Simons: The idea is that it doesn't delay the inevitable.

Chalon Hutson: Not necessarily. If someone paid their debt to society and they want to be a participating member of society, I don't see why they don't have the opportunity to make their case.

Ted Simons: For those that deal with the issue, do you hear a lot of this? Do you feel the minute I check the box, I’m out of there?

Chalon Hutson: Absolutely.

Ted Simons: As soon as they check the box, it's thrown out the window. You support this. How do we know it works? You just looked at the recidivism rate and checked it off from there?

T Chalon Hutson: hat's a great measure, but it affects state agencies. There are private businesses submitting the numbers of their own free will. What will happen is they'll have a larger group of candidates to select from. The companies that don't have this policy in place, often times, they don't have candidates with felonies on their record and it will take its play out on the marketplace and they'll out perform their competitors that don't have the policies.

Ted Simons: We'll see how it works. Good to have you here

Chalon Hutson: Field Director, Generation Opportunity

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