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FAQS

FAQS

Click on the questions below to discover more about hiring justice-involved individuals— formerly incarcerated men, women, and adjudicated youth.


Formerly incarcerated individuals represent an untapped labor pool that can support the growth of your business. Many of these men, women, and youth possess the skills needed to help your business grow and succeed. They are motivated to work, eager to learn, and enthusiastic about becoming productive, law-abiding, tax-paying citizens who can support their families and themselves.

As with any employee, you can expect dependability, productivity, teamwork, and dedication to your company’s mission. Additionally, because of the government’s belief that they have paid their debt to society and deserve a second chance, the government offers various tax credits to employers who hire them. Your company may be eligible to apply for these tax credits, including the Federal Work Opportunity Tax Credit (WOTC), UNICOR (Federal Prison Industries) Tax Credit, and other credits that may be offered by your state and/or local government.

Many of these individuals have received vocational training while they were under the supervision and guidance of the Federal, state, or local correctional system. Some have continued their education and have participated in vocational skills training and soft skills instruction. Many have hands-on experience similar to on-the-job training at an employer’s worksite. Under the UNICOR program and other training initiatives on the state and local levels, individuals may have received certifications in specific industry areas. Vocational training opportunities include:

  • Manufacturing and distribution
  • Food services
  • Upholstery
  • Horticulture and grounds maintenance
  • Hospitality
  • Construction
  • Drafting
  • Retail and customer service

Prior to incarceration, many individuals may have held positions in retail services, clerical and business administration, customer service, call centers, construction, auto repair, food services, and more. As you can see, their work experience mirrors the rest of society.

The Department of Labor has identified and funded many local organizations that have a roster of formerly incarcerated individuals who are looking for employment. They have been pre-screened and trained to meet the labor market demands of the areas in which they reside.

American Jobs Centers may also have registries of individuals who have received skills and educational assessments, job readiness training, soft skills training, and vocational skills training and are ready to work.

Visit the American Job Center Finder to locate the closest facility in your community. Also go to the National Criminal Justice Initiatives Map to find grant programs in your community that work with justice-involved individuals.

A variety of Federal agencies—including the US Department of Labor (DOL), Department of Justice, and the Department of Education—provide grants to states and local communities that are designed to help formerly-incarcerated individuals to successfully transition back into the workforce. Locate the grantees in your community by visiting Go!

Additionally, the US Department of Labor funds local American Job Centers—designed to provide a full range of assistance to employers and job seekers under one roof. The centers offer career counseling, skills assessments, job listings, and other employment-related services including job readiness training. Centers vary from state to state, or even from town to town, based on the labor market’s needs in their locale. Your local American Job Center may be called a:

  • One-Stop Career Center
  • Workforce Center
  • Workforce Services
  • CareerLink

There are approximately 3000 American Job Centers located in all 50 states and Puerto Rico (DOL, The Public Workforce System). According to the DOL, 20 million individuals tap into existing resources each year, and so can you! Each Center is equipped with a business services division that can help you with your recruitment and staffing needs. Click on the Local Help button on this page to find the closest American Job Center near you.

Remember that the staffing services offered to employers are at no cost to you!

The Work Opportunity Tax Credit (WOTC) is a Federal tax credit available to employers for hiring individuals from certain target groups who have consistently faced challenges in finding employment.

WOTC joins other workforce strategies that incentivize workplace diversity and facilitate access to good jobs for American workers. Participating employers are able to reduce their income tax liability by receiving a tax credit that ranges from $1,200 to $9,600, depending on the employee hired.

The Work Opportunity Tax Credits contribute to an employer’s bottom line by providing eligible employers with a Federal tax credit for hiring an ex-offender.

The WOTC Tax Credit could be from $1200-9600 per eligible employee. Let’s say you have:

  • 5 employees
  • 4 are WOTC-eligible at a tax rate of $3000 per employee (depends on hours, duties, etc.)

$12,000 of potential savings

Learn more.

The Federal Bonding Program enables employers to “obtain worker skills without taking risk” by providing 6 months of fidelity bond coverage (through Travelers Casualty and Surety Company of America). And here’s the good news—they can be issued as soon as you offer a candidate a job and will instantly to be in effect the day that he or she is scheduled to start work. There is no termination paperwork, and you can receive these bonds free-of-charge.

The bond insurance ranges from $5,000-$25,000 coverage for a 6-month period with 100% insurance coverage at no cost to you. There is never any deductible. Upon expiration of the bond coverage, you can continue the insurance by purchasing extended coverage from TRAVELERS as long as the worker demonstrated job honesty under coverage provided by the Federal Bonding Program. Data reported on the utilization of this program indicates that it works! There is a 99% success rate when used as a job placement tool for at-risk job seekers (Federal Bonding Program). Call toll free: 1.877.US2.JOBS (1.877.872.5627).

Federal Bonding Program At-a-Glance

  • ✓ NO bond approval processing—local staff instantly issue bonds to employers
  • ✓ NO papers for employers to sign.
  • ✓ NO follow-up and NO termination actions required for bonds issued.
  • ✓ NO deductible in bond insurance amount if employee dishonesty occurs.
  • ✓ NO age requirements for bondees other than legal working age in your state.
  • ✓ NO Federal regulations covering bonds issued.
  • ✓ ANY job at ANY employer in ANY state can be covered by the bond.

So what are you waiting for?

Sign up today!

Visit The Federal Bonding Program

to learn more.

The UNICOR (Federal Prison Industries) Bonding Program offers another option to employers who hire formerly incarcerated individuals who:

  • ✓ Have been Federal inmates.
  • ✓ Worked in UNICOR for at least 6 months during incarceration in a Federal correctional institution.
  • ✓ Sought coverage within one year after release.

This program provides theft insurance up to $5,000 to employers who hire ex-offenders. Each employee is entitled to coverage for one job after completing their residence/program at a residential re-entry center.

Employers who hire eligible individuals may apply for the insurance, at no cost to the employers or to the employees. The initial bond, paid for by UNICOR, covers the first 6 months of employment and is renewable by the employer at commercial rates. In the event of theft of money or property, this insurance will reimburse the employer up to the bond value.

Provides Training and Insurance

What a win/win combination! Not only can you gain access to well-trained qualified workers, but you also secure access to free insurance for his or her first 6 months of employment.

Want to learn more?

Contact an ITB Federal Bonding Specialist at 202.305.3553 or email BOP-FPI/Inmate_Transition@bop.gov.

Visit the UNICOR Bonding Program

According to the Federal Interagency Reentry Council, two out of every three men were employed before they were incarcerated, and many were the primary financial contributors in their households. By hiring a formerly incarcerated man, woman, or young person, you are doing your part in improving the economy over all. Because of you, these individuals can support themselves and their families, pay their taxes, and contribute to their community and our nation’s economy.

“In the ‘what works’ literature of reentry, meaningful employment is consistently demonstrated to be one of the strongest pathways to resistance from crime and successful reentry. Employment allows formerly incarcerated persons to take care of themselves and their families, develop valuable life skills, and strengthen self-esteem and social connectedness (Research on Reentry and Employment).” Indeed, employment has a critical role to play in keeping people out of jail.

Candidates have access to a wide range of services from organizations that provide job readiness assistance—including assessments, soft skills training, ongoing career counseling, and vocational skills training. These organizations and agencies may also provide transportation, work tools, proper business attire, and referrals to childcare—depending on the program.

Individual participants may have received training in occupational and industry approved programs. Many have participated in work release programs, apprenticeships, and transitional work initiatives that also help to get them job-ready.

Data indicates that many justice-involved workers appreciate the opportunity to be given a second chance, and because of their backgrounds, they understand the importance of being employed and will be dedicated to your workplace. Most of the staffing programs that you will work with also have built-in retention incentives that help keep your new employees on-the-job, including graduations, public acknowledgement ceremonies, celebrations, on-going counseling, and other related support services.

If you work with these grant programs, part of their mandate is to stay in touch with you to confirm how the placement is going. You will work directly with a staff member who is assigned to focus on issues that may arise. The goal is to address any concerns and keep you, the employer satisfied with your hiring decision.

These individuals are not looking for any special or different treatment. They want to be a part of your team and not be isolated or identified as “different.” It is expected that you will provide them with the same rights as any other employee in your company.

These organizations are ready to assist you with your immediate employment needs. Visit Go! to identify local DOL grantees, other programs, and the American Job Centers in your community. They can start sending candidates to fit your employment needs right away. We’re sure you will agree that pursuing this staffing option is worth your time.