TRENTON, NJ – Paterson’s State Senator Nellie Pou (D-Passaic/Bergen) is seeking to encourage employers to hire ex-offenders by championing legislation that would authorize corporation business tax and gross income tax credits for businesses that employ recently released inmates. 

The Senate Commerce Committee approved the legislation and it must now be considered by the full legislative body.

“Formerly incarcerated people are unemployed at a rate of over 27 percent — higher than the total U.S. unemployment rate at any point in history, including the Great Depression,” Pou said in explaining part of her motive behind the effort. “Although employers express willingness to hire people with criminal records, evidence shows that having a record reduces employer callback rates by 50 percent, making reentry for former offenders extremely difficult.”

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A qualified ex-offender would be defined in the bill as a person who has been convicted of a crime of the first, second, third or fourth degree, and has been hired within one year of the date of conviction or release from incarceration. If signed into law employers would be eligible for tax credits in the amount equal to 15 percent of the wages paid to the ex-offender with a maximum of $900 per ex-offender.

Joining Pou in pushing the initiative is Senator Shirley Turner (D-Mercer) who reflected that while strides have been made to improved reentry service more can be done, especially as thousands of prisoner are due to be released next month. 

"This legislation will help to provide them with a better chance of successful reentry and reduce the likelihood of recidivism.”

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