Posted at: 03/21/2013 10:23 PM
Updated at: 03/21/2013 11:50 PM
There's a state program that gives businesses tax credits for hiring individuals that have served jail time. The New York State Labor Department says a business can receive up to 24 hundred dollars in federal tax money for each person hired.
The new program is called Work for Success. The state sees it as a win, win. It gives ex-offenders a new chance, businesses tax breaks and saves you money. The State Department of Corrections says it costs as much as $25,000 to house an inmate for one year, so there's a savings for each person who's working and stays out of jail.
Bo Stokely said, “I've been out of work for three years and it's not because I want to be.”
When Bo Stokely walked out of prison six years ago, he thought it was a new beginning. He quickly got a job through word of mouth, but three years ago, he found himself unemployed and he hasn't been able to land anything since.
Stokely said, “Everything is computer now. They ask you've if you've ever committed a crime. The computer won't let you skip the question, so you put it down and they don't talk to you no more. I don't hear from them.”
Stokely spent 31 years in Attica for a murder conviction, but he says he has been rehabilitated. He has three college degrees and experience as a counselor.
The new state program is aimed at making it easier for ex-offenders to find jobs. Companies that hire through "Work for Success" will receive a tax credit up to $2,400 for every ex-offender hired. But will it work? Will these tax credits work and is it fair?
Daniel Mejak is the operations manager at Parkleigh.
News10NBC's Lynette Adams said, “The government says by employing someone who's done time is saving taxpayers.”
Mejak said, “I think its a fair idea to try. I think it has some potential to it. I think there would have to be a lot of details to work to make it work properly, but anything that would create opportunity for someone who is able and willing to work. I would be willing to accept those options absolutely.”
And Stokely says that all he's asking for.
Stokely said, “I don't have another 69 years. I want to take care of myself. That's all I want to do.”
The program will provide training for ex-offenders and will refer only the most qualified people for job openings. Some may say his program gives ex-offenders an unfair advantage in the workplace. We reached out to our federal lawmakers to ask about that, we're still waiting on their responses.