(LANSING) — Today, Mayor Andy Schor hosted an Employer Breakfast at The View to present information on the hiring of returning citizens – those returning to the community after a period of incarceration. Over 20 employers attended the event.
“Hiring returning citizens is the right thing to do, and it benefits the employer, the employee, and the community as a whole,” Schor stated. “Employment, particularly employment at a living wage, impacts recidivism and therefore public safety. It also improves the economic health of our neighborhoods. Further, employers often face a shortage of employees for entry-level positions, and can utilize reentry programs to fill these gaps.” Schor gave opening remarks, followed by Lansing Police Chief Mike Yankowski who spoke to the public safety aspect.
Employers who hire returning citizens have many resources available to them that they may not be aware of. A panel of experts presented on fidelity bonding, where employers can receive an “insurance policy” to mitigate any real or perceived risk. This bonding is provided at no cost to employers by Capital Area Michigan Works! In addition, the Work Opportunity Tax Credit rewards employers who hire individuals who face barriers to employment, such as those who have been incarcerated. Michigan Rehabilitation Services (MRS), a State of Michigan agency, presented on the many services they provide, including accommodation services, risk management and staff retention, and talent development.
Director of Reentry Administration for the Michigan Department of Corrections Kyle Kaminski spoke at the breakfast about the State’s successful Offender Success program. The City of Lansing’s Office of Financial Empowerment, which is part of the Department of Neighborhoods and Citizen Engagement, has been the State’s Administrative Agency for the Offender Success program in Region 7 (Ingham, Clinton and Eaton counties) since October 2017. Offender Success is a program which delivers wraparound services to returning citizens who are referred by their parole agent. These services include social services, such as bus passes, identification, and clothing; housing; job readiness, placement, and retention; and behavioral health services. Since establishing this program, Michigan has seen recidivism rates drop to 28% - the lowest in Michigan’s history, and one of the lowest 10 states in the country. This is good news for county parole offices, who are an integral part of the Offender Success program.
For more information about the Offender Success program, how your company can hire returning citizens, or the resources available, contact the City of Lansing Office of Financial Empowerment at (517)-483-4285.