Interesting segment from Planet Money last week on a study that looked at how ex-felons performed in the Army. For some time during the height of the Afghanistan and Iraq wars, the Army issued waivers for convicted felons to serve. They are no longer issuing those waivers, but not because of any problems with the program, just a lowered demand for troops. A researcher looked at the service files for about 5,000 soldiers with felony records. The results:
- Soldiers with felonies on their record were no more likely to get kicked out of the Army than those without; and
- Those with felony records were in fact more likely to get promoted, and to get promoted faster.
While this is just one study, and civilian employment is different than serving in the Army, it goes to show that refusing to hire felons is short-sighted. A hiring program that looks at the totality of a person’s life, rather than one factor is always going to create better results. Of course, many employers are interested in hiring felons, but are scared to because of potential liability issues. With new tools in Kentucky, like House Bill 40, we will be able to get past some of these challenges and get more people back to work and in better jobs.