Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo recently announced the official launch of the “Work for Success Pledge,” an online pledge in which businesses commit to consider hiring qualified people with criminal convictions.
More than 80 companies who do business in New York, including Fresh Direct, the Target Corporation, Staples, and Vice Media, have already signed on, according to Cuomo’s office.
"Providing job training and opportunities to New Yorkers with criminal histories is proven to help break the vicious cycle of recidivism and increase public safety," Cuomo said in a prepared statement. "The Work for Success Pledge will help provide a chance for these individuals to reenter society and build stronger communities. I thank these businesses for signing up for this critically important program and I urge others to join them."
"When we write off segments of our population because of a single set of circumstances or mistakes made in their past, we deny society of their contributions, and they are denied a chance at a better life. Governor Cuomo's Work for Success Pledge helps bring formally incarcerated individuals into the mainstream, economically and socially, while helping connect employers to a qualified workforce. Let's remember Jesse Hawley, the man who crafted the original blueprint of the Erie Canal, had a criminal record - and without him, one of the greatest public works of all time may not have been created,” Lieutenant Gov. Kathy Hochul said in a prepared statement.
The Work for Success Employer Pledge was launched at a recent event at Vice Media in Brooklyn. The event featured Hochul, Secretary of State Rossana Rosado and Counsel to the Governor Alphonso David, as well as representatives from Action Environmental, Ben & Jerry's, ConBody, and Vice Media.
The pledge does not require employers to hire any particular person or numbers of people but to conduct, as necessary, individualized assessments of whether a conviction affects a person's suitability for the job.
The governor also announced that over 18,000 formerly incarcerated people have been hired through New York's Work for Success program. The program, launched in February 2012, connects those with criminal convictions with jobs through the New York State Department of Labor's job bank, at no cost to the listing businesses or the individual jobseeker.
To date, over 14,000 businesses have hired qualified employees through the program. Companies signing the Work for Success Employer Pledge also agree to list suitable jobs with the Work for Success program.
Nearly 1 in 3 American adults have a criminal record, and there are 2.3 million people with a prior New York state criminal conviction. Currently, only 47 percent of people able to work on NYS parole are employed.
While New York state law requires companies to consider hiring people with criminal convictions, many of these people meet resistance and discrimination when trying to reenter the workforce. One study found that, in New York City, a criminal record reduced the likelihood of a callback or job offer by nearly 50 percent, according to a statement from Cuomo’s office.