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Prisoner Reentry Programs and the Construction Industry Part 1

The construction industry continues to deal with a significant labor gap issue. Construction firms have faced challenges retaining talented workers, and projects are often forced to have their deadlines pushed back because of a lack of qualified workers. Because of an ongoing problem with a skills gap, construction firms are trying their best to recruit the next generation of construction professionals. In some cases, this means businesses may have to look beyond just our high schools, vocational schools, and construction management programs at universities. In fact, some construction firms are exploring unique recruitment options, including working with prisoner reentry programs to combat the labor shortage issue.

In this two-part article, a Birmingham construction lawyer with Cotney Construction Law will discuss construction firms that provide opportunities to individuals that have paid their debt to society and the legal issues that surround this topic. In this first part, an attorney will focus on the challenges facing these newly released individuals looking for work. In the second part, we will cover a few successful examples of prisoner reentry programs that have helped bolster production in the construction sector. Remember, for any of your construction firm’s legal or business needs, including developing a thorough employment manual, consult the Birmingham construction lawyers at Cotney Construction Law.      

The Challenges Facing Recently Released Individuals

According to Simmons University, within three years of their release, 67.8 percent of ex-offenders are rearrested. Within five years of their release, 76.6 percent are rearrested. With more than 600,000 people being released from prisons annually in the United States, these individuals face a tremendous amount of challenges. 

Here are some of the most prevalent issues that face these individuals upon their release:

  • They Aren’t Considered for Opportunities: Formerly incarcerated applicants struggle to find work in most industries. According to the Bureau of Justice, only 12.5 percent of employers admit that they would accept an application from an ex-convict. Many employers simply don’t want to risk any liability involved in a negligent hire. 
  • They Lack Qualifications: Beyond a resume gap and limited professional contacts, many former inmates also lack a high school diploma, which greatly reduces their chances of landing an interview with most prospective employers. 
  • They Don’t Have Community Support: Many former inmates find that their return home presents many more challenges than they imagined, including the financial burden an unemployed adult presents to their family members. 
  • They Could Struggle with Technological Changes: People that served lengthy prison sentences may struggle to adapt to the newest technologies and ways of life. For example, some recently released ex-convicts have never used a smartphone. 
  • They Have Many Social Challenges: Along with a lack of social contacts, many former inmates struggle to adjust from their structured prison life to a more independent way of living. 

Any of the above issues can impact a potential applicant’s ability to take advantage of a career opportunity. In the next part, we will discuss a few ways reentry programs and construction firms are combating these issues and hiring ex-convicts. We will also provide construction employers with some legal advice pertaining to hiring workers with a criminal record. 

If you would like to speak with one of our Birmingham construction lawyers, please contact us today.

Disclaimer: The information contained in this article is for general educational information only. This information does not constitute legal advice, is not intended to constitute legal advice, nor should it be relied upon as legal advice for your specific factual pattern or situation.