In an August 2021 opinion guest essay in The New York Times, JPMorgan Chase & Company chairman and chief executive Jamie Dimon expresses his “moral outrage” for the more than 70 million Americans with an arrest or criminal record that face financial, legal and logistical roadblocks that prevent them from securing good jobs after after they have paid their debt to society. He points to the fact that nearly half of formerly incarcerated people are unemployed one year after leaving prison.
“This group is ready to work and deserves a second chance — an opportunity to fill the millions of job openings across the country. Yet our criminal justice system continues to block them from doing so.”
In the essay, Dimon discusses the steps JPMorgan Chase & Company have taken to help overcome some of these barriers, including “banning the box” asking about a candidate’s criminal or arrest records on initial job applications, establishing a Second Chance hiring program, that provides legal services, job search support and mentorship, and partnered with other employers like Accenture, CVS, Eaton, General Motors, McDonald’s, Microsoft, Verizon and Walmart to form the Second Chance Business Coalition, which allows businesses to develop and share best practices and test new approaches to help support the hiring and advancement of people with criminal backgrounds.
“In part because of these efforts, we hired approximately 2,100 people with a criminal background in 2020 — roughly 10 percent of our new hires in the United States that year.”
Despite these highlights in the corporate world, Dimon expresses that “to create real systemic change, we need better public policy.” He points to the various forms of “Clean Slate” legislation making their way through Congress and U.S. state capitals, aimed at helping clear or seal eligible criminal records, open access to jobs and increase earnings by about 20 percent. He points also to the great progress states like Pennsylvania, Utah, Michigan, New Jersey, Virginia, Connecticut and Delaware have made in passing or enacting similar bipartisan clean slate legislation but contends that C.E.O.s and community leaders must urge more states and the federal government to pursue similar legislative solutions.
Read Dimon’s full essay in The New York Times