“He’s my best worker,” Nelsen said. “Out of all my technicians, he’s the one I wouldn’t want to lose.”
– Ron Nelson, owner of Pioneer Overhead Door
In a recent article from the Washington Post, Ron Nelson, the owner of a Las Vegas garage door company discusses his most valued employee. That employee, Ian Black, isn’t your typical 9 to 5 worker. Rather than going to back to a home after he finishes his shift, Ian returns to his cell at Casa Grande work-release facility where he is serving time for non-violent felony convictions.
At first, Nelson said he was skeptical of hiring a worker from Casa Grande, especially since he and other local business owners had opposed the building of the facility in 2005. But with the record low un-employment rate, Nelson was struggling to find qualified, hard working employees. That’s when he stumbled upon Ian’s resume and after some encouragement from the community and an outstanding interview with Ian, Nelson decided to take a chance on Ian. As it turns out, that decision was great for both Nelson’s company and for Ian. Nelson now claims that Ian is his best employee and Ian is grateful for the opportunity to earn income that will help him get back on his feet once he is released.
Nelson and Ian’s story might not have been possible even a year ago. In the past, people with criminal records were often overlooked when it came to hiring, regardless of their qualifications for the job. But now, thanks to a national effort from both conservative groups, like Koch Industries, and progressive groups, like the ACLU, employers are now seeing the benefits of hiring individuals with criminal records. Hiring individuals with criminal records is also good for the community-at-large because it reduced recidivism, lowers unemployment, and reduces prison and welfare costs. Hopefully, with the continued low unemployment rates, more employers will look beyond a person’s criminal past and see their potential to be a hardworking and productive member of their company, just like Ian.