Indiana offers incentives for businesses to hire ex-prisoners

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INDIANAPOLIS, Ind. — Indiana employers facing a tight labor market are welcoming former prisoners with the help of state and local government.

The Indiana Department of Workforce Development found 15,000 ex-offenders are released from state prisons each year. The recidivism rate is at 38 percent.

The Indianapolis Business Journal reports that the state wants to expand its job placement program for ex-offenders. The HIRE program started with 300 employers in 2012 but had grown to nearly 1,140 businesses through November. It has placed almost 2,000 workers with a 97 percent retention rate.

Gov. Eric Holcomb said his administration will work to grow prison training programs and “reduce the revolving doors that we so often see in our prison system.”

“We’ll better prepare our offenders for opportunities in today’s economy with more high-demand critical training that they need to succeed once they are out,” Holcomb said.

Indianapolis Mayor Joe Hogsett plans to offer tax breaks to companies that agree to hire ex-offenders. But the Metropolitan Development Commission and possibly the City-County Council would need to approve each deal.

The city has worked with several social services groups that will act similar to staffing agencies for employers.

“A goal would be that people are training, receiving the soft skills and maybe hands-on training, so that when they come out, they could actually have a career pathway,” said Brooke Daunhauer, director of re-entry for the city’s Office of Public Health and Safety. “I’d like them to have an employer willing to hire them when they get out. That’s something we’re working toward.”

The Indy Chamber recently won a second year of funding for a program that helps former inmates become entrepreneurs.

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