Our community forum on Fair Chance Hiring on March 9 was an attempt to educate the Spokane public on ways to include previously incarcerated people in our society. It was encouraging to see the large turnout of business owners and community members alike at the event, to gather with the Spokane community, to stand in solidarity with our fellow citizens, and to begin the conversation on fair hiring. We heard from members of I Did the Time who shared their personal stories of poverty, arrest, recovery, change, and discrimination. It was an emotional look into the reality of this issue. You can see pictures on our Instagram feed here.
Without Fair Chance Hiring, no matter how qualified a person may be, their application is often thrown out on the first glance if they have a criminal record. Not only is this a waste of employee potential of an entire populace, but it is also a drain on city resources. Over Â¼ of our Spokane population has a conviction record, and research shows that the rate of recidivism is much higher for ex-offenders when they cannot get a job after getting out of prison. That’s why PJALS and other local organizations are calling for a city ordinance to require private businesses to ban the box from their applications.
We need to allow previously incarcerated people the opportunity to follow institutional means of success so not to force them into a relapse of criminal offense. Spokane has a long way to go to create a working reintegration process for ex-offenders, but this event was a great start to forming a solution – standing together in this fight for fairness and equal opportunity!