April 18, 2016
My name is Jennifer Jackson and I have come before you today representing the Capital Area Reentry Council. The Council stands in full support of the Fair Chance Hiring Ordinance, and would like to commend the Wake County’s Commissioners for taking a pro-active approach to issues that impact its citizenry, and for their leadership in ensuring fairness for job applicants who have been convicted of a crime.
The Capital Area Reentry Council was formed in February of 2015 by the NC Department of Public Safety’s Rehabilitative Programs together with the NC Department of Commerce’s Division of Workforce Solutions. Our mission is to coordinate and improve access to resources dedicated to reentry in Wake County and provide assistance for returning citizens and their families. Like you, we believe that everyone deserves a second chance.
The Council – and many of our members are here today in this room – brings law enforcement officers, faith-based organizations, concerned citizens and formerly incarcerated individuals together with nonprofits and government agencies that provide services and resources in housing, healthcare, mental healthcare, education, employment, legal, transportation, and veterans services to address challenges and find solutions to barriers to reentry. The group also works to raise public awareness about reentry and its impacts from the perspectives of both support of fundamental human rights as well as the economic necessity for our state and our communities to be pre-emptive in the approach to reentry.
Over 20,000 people are released from North Carolina prisons annually. Barriers such as the ones the Fair Chance Hiring Ordinance was adopted to eliminate are the basis for why, historically, nearly two-thirds of this population returned to incarceration. People returning home from prison carry with them the stigma associated with incarceration and the barriers it generates to obtaining basic needs. It does not have to be this way. The Council, for example, holds monthly resource fairs for formerly incarcerated men and women where service providers are concentrated in a central location to answer questions and provide coordinated access to services. However, good jobs are the linchpin to accessing these services, the starting point for everything else.
As you seen and heard here today, formerly incarcerated people have paid their debt to society. They can be successful, productive citizens. We believe that the Fair Chance Hiring Ordinance is a crucial step in ensuring that we as a community help, not hinder, this important goal. Thank you.