Frequently Asked Questions

1 As an employer, what are you asking me to do?

To hold off asking about an applicant’s criminal record until the interview process.

2 Does this mean people with criminal records get priority over people who don’t?

No. This in no way tilts the scales in favor of people with a record. It simply levels the playing field at the beginning of the hiring process by not immediately rejecting someone because he or she has a prior arrest or conviction.

3 How does this change my hiring process?

Very little. The only thing we are asking is that employers wait until the interview phase to ask someone if they have a record. This allows the applicant to explain his or her circumstances, rather than being discarded from the start because of questions on the job application about a record.

4 Why should I give an individual with a record a second chance?

One in four working-age Americans has a past offense. That’s 70 million people who would be automatically eliminated from the workforce if an employer asked about a criminal history and tossed aside every applicant who answered “yes.” Many of these arrests or convictions are either decades-old, or one critical mistake a person made. Employers who have hired ex-offenders often say these workers are the most loyal, reliable and valuable on their teams.

5 Can this really have a big impact?

Yes. The reduced output of goods and services of people with felonies and prison records is estimated at $57 billion to $65 billion in losses to the nation’s economy. Allowing people to work increases their tax contributions, boosts sales tax, and saves money by keeping people out of the criminal justice system.

6 How can hiring people with past offenses reduce crime?

The number one factor in whether a person returns to jail or prison is whether or not they have a full-time job. When a person has a job and the means to provide for himself or herself, the chances of reoffending are significantly reduced.

7 Are you pushing for a new law to make this mandatory?

No. Many cities have enacted this type of legislation, but we do not believe this is necessary in Northeast Florida. We are supporting a peer-to-peer shift, where businesses large and small in our community commit to waiting until later in the hiring process to ask applicants if they have a criminal background.

8 How do I learn more?

We will be making an official announcement of the project this fall, when we’ll launch our website along with an outreach plan. For now, please contact Tina Wirth, Vice President of Workforce Development, at 904-366-6651 or twirth@jaxusa.org.

Join the organizations committed to Project Open Door!