Mayor’s Office of Communications
55 Trinity Avenue, Suite 2500 • Atlanta, Georgia 30303
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: March 6, 2017
Statement from Human Resources Commissioner Yvonne Yancy on Second-Chance Hiring Policies
ATLANTA – "Sunday’s story in the Atlanta Journal-Constitution regarding a former public employee fails to accurately describe second-chance employment policies used by the City of Atlanta, the State of Georgia, the federal government and more than 150 local governments across the nation. Second-chance policies, such as 'ban the box,' offer ex-offenders a much-needed chance to set their lives back on track by removing a barrier to consideration for employment.
The City of Atlanta stands by its policy of prohibiting questions to job applicants about their criminal history during initial interviews, because in our city, we know that crime’s costs can’t be addressed with improved policing alone. Nearly one in three United States citizens has a prior conviction. Ninety-five percent of incarcerated individuals are eventually released, and this year more than 600,000 ex-offenders will return to their communities, including Atlanta and the metropolitan region.
According to a 2015 study by the Manhattan Institute, employment reduces recidivism rates. More specifically, the sooner ex-offenders are employed, the less likely they are to commit future crimes resulting in further jail and prison time. Through its policies, Atlanta has an opportunity to demonstrate substantive change in ending the cycle of incarceration.
Both public and private employers have chosen to 'ban the box,' prohibiting questions about previous criminal history until later in the hiring process. This gives ex-offenders the chance to get their foot in the door, and to be considered fairly among other applicants. Through this initiative, countless Americans have been able to reclaim their freedom and lead productive lives by earning the gainful employment so necessary to their rehabilitation.
Nearly twenty percent of all job applicants at the City of Atlanta have a prior conviction. By and large, employees with a past conviction are motivated and effective workers because they do not want to lose their jobs and re-enter the cycle of recidivism. They want to be productive, contributing members of their community, and their performance proves it.
When an employer adopts a second-chance hiring policy, it does not get to pick and choose which crimes make someone ineligible for employment; rather, per 2012 EEOC guidelines, the employer must evaluate the candidate based on the position they applied for, and this is precisely what the City of Atlanta does when evaluating all applicants.
If people are unable to obtain work they are qualified to perform, then we are dooming them and their families to lives of extreme poverty or dependency on public support.
The AJC could have spoken to any number of expert researchers or advocates who have seen firsthand how lives can be changed by a simple policy change. The City of Atlanta’s second-chance hiring policy is legitimate, necessary and the proper position of the state’s largest and most progressive municipal employer."
For more information about the City of Atlanta, please visit http://www.atlantaga.gov or watch City Channel 26. Follow the City of Atlanta on Facebook and Twitter @CityofAtlanta. Follow Mayor Reed on Facebook and Twitter @Kasim Reed