Press Release

Welch Joins Resolution to Designate April “Fair Chance Jobs” Month to Expand Job Opportunities for Formerly Incarcerated People 

Apr 23, 2024

Hiring and paying formerly incarcerated people living wages helps build a diverse, robust, and resilient workforce, reduces recidivism   

WASHINGTON, D.C.Senator Peter Welch (D-Vt.) joined Senators Edward J. Markey (D-Mass.) and Amy Klobuchar (D-Minn.) last week in introducing a resolution declaring April as “Fair Chance Jobs Month,” to ensure that formerly incarcerated people have a chance at securing good-paying, stable employment. The Fair Chance Jobs Month Resolution expands upon the Biden Administration’s 2021 declaration of April as “Second Chance Month,” focusing on policies to expand job opportunities for formerly incarcerated people.   

In the United States, which has among the highest recidivism rates in the world, nearly 14,000 laws and regulations—along with 48,000 other collateral consequences—restrict formerly incarcerated people from getting the professional licenses necessary to secure some jobs. Nearly two-thirds of formerly incarcerated people remain jobless; those who have served their sentence and have been released continue to face systemic biases and stigmas that make finding a job extremely difficult. For those who land a job, their earnings are nearly $100 less per week than the average worker.   

There are also numerous economic benefits to fair chance hiring. For example, employers can leverage financial incentives, such as the federal work opportunity tax credit, to create job opportunities for formerly incarcerated people.   

“The patterns of our criminal legal systems continue to repeat themselves, where people are put behind bars over and over again without fair access to opportunities, resources, and support,” said Senator Markey. “Formerly incarcerated people should be given a fair chance to land a good-paying job so they can support a better life for themselves and for their families, as well as help strengthen the workforce with their unique qualifications. Our resolution is a positive step forward towards ensuring that formerly incarcerated people receive the recognition, respect, and dignity they deserve.”  

“As a former prosecutor, I have seen firsthand the employment challenges people can face when they are released after serving their sentence,” said Senator Klobuchar. “This bipartisan resolution to recognize Fair Chance Jobs Month will raise awareness of the barriers formerly incarcerated people face in the job market and promote opportunities for those who are looking to reenter the workforce.”  

“As a former federal public defender, I’ve witnessed how difficult it can be for people to fully reintegrate into their communities after incarceration. Stigmas about formerly incarcerated people can make finding a stable job next to impossible, and employment challenges often lead to increased recidivism. The Fair Chance Jobs Month Resolution promotes awareness about the obstacles formerly incarcerated people face when looking for work in order to make sure they are treated fairly and with respect in the job market,” said Senator Welch

Cosponsors of the resolution in the Senate include Senators Laphonza Butler (D-Calif.), Tammy Duckworth (D-Ill.), Dick Durbin (D-Ill.), Jeff Merkley (D-Ore.), Alex Padilla (D-Calif.), and Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.).  

Senator Welch has advocated for initiatives in the Senate to reduce recidivism and support those re-entering their communities after being incarcerated. Senator Welch and the Vermont congressional delegation have repeatedly called on the U.S. Bureau of Prisons (BOP) to establish a Residential Reentry Center (RRC), a facility that offers transitional community reentry services and assistance for formerly incarcerated individuals, in Vermont. Welch highlighted the importance of placing a RRC in Vermont at recent Senate Judiciary Committee hearings and has pressed BOP Director Colette Peters on why Vermont remains one of only two states without an RRC. 

In December, Senator Welch and Representative Ayanna Pressley (D-Mass.-07) introduced the Inclusive Democracy Act, legislation that would end felony disenfranchisement in federal elections, including for the nearly two million individuals currently incarcerated in the United States. Vermont is one of only two states in the nation, besides Maine, that grants persons in prison the right to vote. Welch is also a cosponsor of the Next Step Home Act to restore voting rights in federal elections for these folks who have shown a genuine desire to reenter their communities. 

The Fair Chance Jobs Month Resolution is endorsed by JustLeadershipUSA.  

Read the full text of the resolution.