Hiring the Formerly Incarcerated: A Resource, Not A Burden

“Second chance” hiring improves our communities by employing people with criminal records. When people continue to suffer the penalty of workforce barriers due to their past mistakes after serving their time, we not only create injustice and intergenerational poverty, but we also miss out on tapping into the potential of an incredible workforce.

For information about Partnership services for returning residents, please email us at RoadHome@chicookworks.org.

“Data shows that 60% of people incarcerated in Illinois return to 15 communities in Cook County and 12 zip codes in Chicago. The need to ensure that these individuals receive access to resources including employment training and placement is more critical than ever before. There is no question that systemic racism and inequity in the justice system make formerly incarcerated people far more likely to have their lives shattered and futures determined due to one mistake they may have made. One of the goals of “A Hire Calling” and the work of the Partnership in this sector is to inform and challenge our employer partners to utilize this untapped well of human capital and potential.” — Partnership CEO Karin Norington-Reaves


Learn More About "Second Chance" Hiring

33% of Black American men in the U.S. have a felony record, while only 13% of all adult men in the U.S. have a felony record.

The Road to a Better Society

In today’s environment, businesses must focus on their “bottom line.” The United States has 19 million people with a felony conviction, which disproportionally affects people of color. Those with a history represent a significantly underutilized labor resource. Unequal access to workforce opportunities impacts our communities and businesses for generations to come.

Economic Development


increased likelihood of poverty if the father is imprisoned.

Workforce Development


less likely to receive a job interview if formerly incarcerated.

Family Impact


children in the U.S. have a parent that has been incarcerated.

In collaboration with Cook County’s Justice Advisory Council (JAC), The Partnership created the Cook County Coordinated Reentry Council and held eight months of convenings resulting in the following recommendations for systemic changes to the region’s reentry system:

Implement pre-release skills assessment to identify individual needs, and employment/education goals.

Initiate continuum of services beginning pre-release continuing in community.

Increase pre- and post-release access to technology.

Facilitate awareness of and access to occupational training and career pathways.

Implement demonstration project best practices within public workforce system.

Thanks for The Partnership

Thank you to everyone who made this vital discussion possible.

Partnership Staff

Karin M. Norington-Reaves
Chief Executive Officer

Susan Bisno Massel
Chief of Communications and External Affairs

Patrick Combs
Chief Program Officer

Tommy Gee
IT/ Network Administrator

Pedro Gonzalez
Network/Database Technician

Phaedra M. Leslie
Director of Business Relations & Economic Development

Sarah Luyengi
Communications Specialist

Greg Martinez
Program Developer

Cory Muldoon
Chief of Staff

Jesus Ramirez
Graphic Design & Visual Content Specialist

Jasmine Williams
Program Developer

Community Leaders

President Toni Preckwinkle
Cook County Board of Commissioners

Mayor Lori Lightfoot
City of Chicago

Sheriff Tom Dart
Cook County

Featured Guests

Minister Willette Benford
Decarceration Organizer
Live Free Illinois

Jeff Brown
President & CEO
Brown’s Super Stores, Inc., Philadelphia

Michael Cannon
Reentry Navigator
Chicago Cook Workforce Partnership

Dorval R. Carter, Jr.
Chicago Transit Authority (CTA)

August Ghilarducci
Vice President of Training & Development
2nd Opportunity L3C

Jeff Korzenik

Pete Leonard
Founder – Roast Master
I Have a Bean, Wheaton, IL

Morag Lucey
Televerde, Phoenix, AZ

Dan Meyer
Founder, President & CEO
Nehemiah Manufacturing Company

Orlando Mayorga
Reentry Policy Coordinator
Office of the Lt. Governor’s Justice, Equity, and Opportunity Initiative

Elesha Nightingale
JD Student & Founder
The Uplift

Francisco Perez
Reentry Navigator
Chicago Cook Workforce Partnership

David Snyder
President & CEO
The Economic Club, Chicago

Adonis Summerville
Senior Metal Working Skills Instructor
Jane-Addams Resource Corporation

Ally Svenson
Co-Founder & Chief Purpose Officer
MOD Pizza

Matthew Walberg
Press Secretary
Cook County Sheriff’s Office