Because of their #criminal record, more than 70 million Americans find it difficult to get a job. A new job placement company, 70MillionJobs, hopes to find employment opportunities for these people. As it is, even people with no records are finding it difficult to find work because of outsourcing and the weak business climate.

The company was established by #Richard Bronson who understands the difficulty of finding jobs because of a criminal record. The CEO, after all, is a felon. He is a former Wall Street banker who was convicted of securities fraud, Forbes reported.

Second chances

Bronson is a believer in rehabilitation.

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Living with hundreds of male inmates for 22 months gave him a chance to observe fellow prisoners. Most of them “were no better or worse than those I knew on the outside,” the CEO said. He added many felons had very few options in life and followed only others around them.

He noted that people serve life sentences for offenses they did when they were younger. Should these young felons “be forced to serve a life sentence for a crime committed, often in their youth?” Bronson asked. The CEO clarified he was not referring to serial killers or sociopaths.

Better than workers without criminal records

The negative bias among employers to hire applicants with criminal records is understandable. However, Bronson cited new studies that suggested former offenders could be better workers than those who have no criminal record.

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As ex-inmates, they are used to following orders. Given a second chance, former felons appreciate the opportunity to be employed again, making them extremely careful not to mess up, Bronson explained.

He added that the Department of Labor has a Federal Bonding Program which provides insurance cover for at-risk workers during their first six months of employment at zero cost to the company and the worker. Firms hiring ex-felons would qualify for federal tax credits.

Pilot program in LA

Bronson believes employment is the silver bullet for the out-of-control recidivism when people with criminal records are tempted to commit another offense when they cannot find work. He pointed out that there is an 80 percent chance a person released from prison will be re-arrested within five years. About 90 percent of them will be jobless when re-arrested.

To help cities reduce the cost of recidivism, 70MillionJobs entered into a pilot program with Los Angeles under the Office of Reentry of Mayor Eric Garcetti.

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Bronson added that while LA and New York City have “ban the box” laws that prohibit companies from asking job applicants if they have a criminal record, a Google search would often defeat the law’s intention.

Wall Street investment banker

Bronson’s conviction could be found not only with a Google search. In Leonardo DiCaprio’s movie “Wolf of Wall Street,” Bronson was portrayed, along with Jordan Belfort, the character DiCaprio played in the movie, working at Stratton Oakmont, a brokerage firm on Long Island where he became a partner. He eventually created his own company with more than 500 employees and almost $100 million yearly revenue earned mostly by wrongful trading practices. When government agents arrested him, he pleaded guilty to securities fraud and repaid people who suffered losses, which explain why his sentence was quite lenient and why he, too, wants leniency for former felons. #employment opportunity