The Crucial Importance of Second Chances - Street2Boardroom

Employment is critical to reducing the vicious cycle of incarceration and re-offending.
Richard Branson

Very often, young people make mistakes. This can be down to a number of factors like; socio-economic circumstances, lack of adult guidance, immaturity, lack of mentoring or peer pressure. Sadly, many of them could have done better if given the chance to prove themselves.

People who commit crimes must be held accountable and make an effort to repair the harm they’ve caused. But society’s failure to extend a genuine second chance means that the punishment never truly ends.

Those from disadvantaged backgrounds often show huge determination to find work but in the face of mitigating personal challenges and circumstances. Ex-offenders are an untapped source of passion and skill, and as a society, we enable them to remain in a vicious cycle by the lack of support that is offered.

In the UK, there are over 11 million people with a criminal record. There are approximately 735,000 people with unspent convictions. That’s a huge chunk of our society.

The most significant challenge an ex-offender faces after being released is finding a job, despite the fact that they have paid their debt to society. However, businesses can play a vital role in bringing about real attitude change towards ex-offenders.

Key Barriers Faced By Ex-Offenders

  • Getting a job
  • Securing housing
  • Social stigma and judgement
  • Low self-esteem

Barriers that prevent someone from accessing employment, housing, and education are bad for the individual, our communities, and our economy.

Our criminal justice system should promote both accountability and redemption, which permits people with a criminal record to move forward. While these individuals continue to face significant societal and legal barriers to becoming productive members of our communities, they are likely to stay on the wrong track.

Access to employment and housing is important for those reentering society, but also for our general public safety. Securing both have been found to be key barriers that prevent a person’s ability to reach their full potential once they have a criminal record. Research consistently shows that meaningful employment is essential for reducing future crime.

The barriers mentioned do not necessarily end after acquiring a job, housing, or additional education. In many cases, they can last a lifetime due to negative stigma. Through individual and collective action, research, and reform we can give second chances and work towards stronger communities, economies, and families.

As we rebuild things from the effects of the pandemic, we would like to encourage more businesses locally (and globally) to see the benefits of hiring ex offenders.

Look beyond the stereotypes and outside of your own bias – to see the skills, experience and potential of people who represent a broader spectrum of our society.

Let’s commit to doing the work together. We need to unlock brighter futures for those who have messed up. To help change business and society for good.