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From Prison To The Workforce

RICHARD BOUHET
/
AFP/Getty Images

No one knows for sure how many Americans have been convicted of a crime. But the number is in the millions, making the formerly incarcerated a significant portion of the population. Once these men and women have served their time, they find their troubles aren't over. It's exceptionally hard for former convicts to get a job, which is bad news for those individuals, for society and for the economy.

Governments have come up with all sorts of schemes to get former prisoners back into the workforce, to reduce recidivism and turn former criminals into productive members of society. But employers are often nervous about hiring them, for all sorts of reasons, and the evidence for post-conviction employment programs is mixed.

But one idea shows a lot of promise. Today on The Indicator, we tell the story of a piece of paper that could provide the key to post-prison employment. A rehabilitation certificate.

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Copyright 2021 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.

Stacey Vanek Smith is the co-host of NPR's The Indicator from Planet Money. She's also a correspondent for Planet Money, where she covers business and economics. In this role, Smith has followed economic stories down the muddy back roads of Oklahoma to buy 100 barrels of oil; she's traveled to Pune, India, to track down the man who pitched the country's dramatic currency devaluation to the prime minister; and she's spoken with a North Korean woman who made a small fortune smuggling artificial sweetener in from China.
Cardiff Garcia is a co-host of NPR's The Indicator from Planet Money podcast, along with Stacey Vanek Smith. He joined NPR in November 2017.
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