NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) – Those convicted of a crime are getting a second chance in an unlikely place.
Monday, JPMorgan Chase announced plans to not only hire ex-offenders, but lobby to change the laws so other companies would be required to do the same.
Some statistics find one in three Americans has a criminal history – a mark on their record that can last a lifetime.
Now JPMorgan Chase wants to help remove the employment barrier for ex-offenders.
“We want the very best people to work here, and we don’t think a criminal record is a disqualification of getting those very good people to work here,” said Heather Higginbottom of JPMorgan Chase.
In most states including New York, employers can only ask about an applicant’s criminal history after a conditional offer has been extended. Now JPMorgan Chase announced plans to loosen federal laws, including more people with records to be eligible to work at banks.
Seven million dollars is earmarked for community organizations that help with career developments. There are also changes being made within its own corporate culture.
“Success looks like change. When we see laws change. When we see our hiring continuing to be reformed, then we’ll know we’ve made it,” Higginbottom said.
Last year, 10% of JPMorgan Chase’s new hires in the United States had some sort of criminal record. That amounts to about 2,100 people.
“You should not be marked by the biggest mistake of your life for life,” said Judith Whiting of the Community Service Society.
Whiting applauds JPMorgan Chase and hopes more companies follow suit. Her agency helps ex-offenders find employment.
So what does she tell those who are hesitant or fearful?
“You’ve probably made some mistakes in your life,” Whiting said. “You may have even made some of the mistakes people were convicted for. You just were not in that circumstance, in that place, or of that race.”
After a mistake and the price is paid, the question is who deserves a second chance.
The company is piloting the program in Chicago. It then plans to expand to New York and other large markets.