NC, SC attorneys general urge companies to consider hiring convicted felons

NORTH CAROLINA — The Carolina's are booming with business right now.

As companies expand, employment demand grows, too.

"We are doing a ton of work to tackle that issue," North Carolina Attorney General Josh Stein said at a panel discussion Tuesday morning.

Stein, along with South Carolina Attorney General Alan Wilson addressed the crowd as part of an ‘Untapped Potential' series hosted by the Charlotte Regional Business Alliance.

The attorney generals asked more than 100 representatives from local companies to consider hiring those who are often overlooked for career opportunities – convicted felons.

In a tight labor market, where job opportunities outweigh workers, Stein and Wilson encouraged employers to reexamine their talent practices.

"When they get out of incarceration, they find door after door closed to them," Stein said. "95 percent of people who are incarcerated right now will one day be released – and those people need jobs."

People, like Deborah Rose.

"I remember being frustrated, but I also had some hope," Rose said. "I was applying for a lot of jobs, and I would actually get start dates and everything and then I would either get a phone call or an email or a letter saying we can't hire you because of the criminal background."

Nearly 70 percent  of prisoners are arrested again within just three years of their release.

Rose broke that cycle when she found a two week program at the Center for Community Transitions in Charlotte.

It connected her to dozens of employers who looked beyond her background.


Now, she has a cubicle of her own, with a fresh start she wishes for so many others.

"I always look back and it is a surreal moment for me. Sometimes it brings me to tears," Rose said.

In an effort to entice employers, federal, state and even local governments offer tax breaks for businesses to hire workers who have a felony conviction.