There are a wide variety of programs in place all over the U.S. to teach former and current incarcerated people new skills so they can land jobs after their release. However, finding jobs after prison can be difficult.
In Texas, juveniles are learning carpentry through a community college program while carrying out their sentence. In Memphis, Tennessee, women are learning beauty skills and braiding. Tablets pre-loaded with culinary and hospitality programs are going into various prisons and youth facilities nationwide.
Still, many people impacted by the justice system have a very hard time securing employment after release.
Sterling Braden, the creator of the Friend A Felon app, says he did a social experiment, completed 286 job applications, and received no responses.
During the peak of the pandemic, the U.S. unemployment rate was around 15%. The unemployment rate for people trying to re-enter society hovers above 60%.
The U.S. has the highest incarceration rate in the world. About one-third of adults have a criminal record, according to the Sentencing Project. Some of those with criminal records include those charged but never convicted of crimes.
"Having even a minor criminal record, such as a misdemeanor or even an arrest without conviction, can create an array of lifelong barriers that stand in the way of successful reentry," the Sentencing Project said.
Four and a half million people are on parole or probation. A majority are working-aged men, whose participation in the labor force has been declining for years. All are people available to fill the more than 11 million U.S. jobs available.
The U.S. Chamber of Commerce Foundation recently highlighted these figures through the America Working Forward Project. They are profiling pathways to employment for formerly incarcerated people and the companies giving them a second chance.
There are other organizations like the Center for Workforce Inclusion that are also helping formerly incarcerated people find work.