Jobs for Felons- Why Hire a Felon

Jobs for Felons- Why Hire a Felon

Lars Johnssen

I own a small construction company in upstate Michigan. Over the past few years I have hired both illegal aliens and workers that have criminal records. I find that if you want workers that really want to work, ex-felons and illegals are the best employees. I have often gotten away with paying straight wages (no taxes or governmental deductions taken.) This worked for a while until one of my competitors found out and made a call to the state labor board and asked to see my employee records. I did have legitimate employees but still I was warned against hiring undocumented workers and the hefty fine that would come with being caught.


I'm not saying that I never hired another illegal alien. They are a great workers and they help to keep small businesses like mine, able to run. I did however put my people with criminal records on the books. I found out about the Work Opportunity Tax Credit. It offers me about $9,600 per year in tax credits for retaining them as employees.  


Hiring felons hasn't always worked out for me. I have had equipment stolen and I have been physically threatened by others. I don't worry much about that. My foreman is a 6 foot 6 inch, 270lb former Canadian Football League player who did time for manslaughter. Isaac is a nice guy who has had some bad times but he good guy and a great foreman.  


I often go to the local parole office when looking for new employees. I find that newly released felons are eager to turn their lives around so they are usually on time and ready to work when they get hired. The parole officers are very cooperative because it makes their jobs easier when parolees get jobs.


The word has gotten out that I offer jobs for felons. I get a lot of calls from people who want to help their family members get jobs.  I hire felons but they must have some experience with tools and scaffolding but most that come me do have some construction experience. I have hired some with no experience, but that was if they had been referred by someone who was already working for me.


Do I suggest that other employers hire felons? That's up to the individual. As for me, I will never pass up the opportunity to have a good worker just because he's had a rough life. Also I feel good helping some folks get their lives together and at the same time make my community safer. It only takes a job to turn a guy from a potential drain on society to a taxpaying citizen.


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