Pittsburgh’s city council is working on an initiative that would place formerly incarcerated people in jobs. The city council is looking to act on the measure this month. This proposed measure follows the Biden White House’s report on increasing post-release employment for the formerly incarcerated.
Studies have shown that formerly incarcerated people have a higher rate of unemployment than the general public. In February 2022, the Prison Policy Initiative found that the rate of unemployment for people who were formerly incarcerated could be safely predicted to be 60% at any given time. Even in the job-seeker friendly post-pandemic period, the formerly incarcerated struggled with finding employment. Since steady employment is a key factor in successfully reintegrating back into society, government agencies are taking a more active role in helping formerly incarcerated people find work.
In Pennsylvania, steady progress has been made in removing barriers to employment for formerly incarcerated people. The City of Pittsburgh passed its Ban the Box ordinances in 2012. The state passed a Fresh Start law that limited access to prior convictions. In 2021, Philadelphia followed with its own Ban the Box provisions. The new Pittsburgh measure would go one step further than the Ban the Box ordinances by proactively seeking to place the formerly incarcerated in jobs.