Offender Recidivism Is HR’s Problem

Hire an ex-con? Absolutely.

“A record is only one data point,” says Rustin Tonn, exhorting his DisruptHR audience in Denver to, “Hire now. And quite pretending we don’t have responsibility.”

Tonn, regional HR manager in Denver with Newgistics, doesn’t so much present a case as he preaches it. His presentation last summer is one part PowerPoint and two parts evangelizing.

More than 600,000 prisoners are released annually, he notes. Half re-offend within 3 years; 75% re-offend eventually. “Why? Because we won’t give them a freakin’ job,” Tonn admonishes, serving up this detail: jobs cut recidivism to as little as 7%. And when they’re working, what are they not doing? he asks, “How about committing crimes?”

“Why is this our problem? We’ve got all the freakin’ jobs.”

Tonn’s 5 minutes on the stage is no mere appeal to conscience. His call on HR’s societal responsibility to give ex-cons a chance is buttressed with statistics and examples. Tonn cites former President Barack Obama and Speaker Paul Ryan in the same breath. He addresses the worries about lawsuits and concedes not every ex-con you hire will be a success. “I’m not asking you to make bad decisions. I’m asking you for better consideration.”

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It’s a persuasive case he makes that perfectly fits the Disrupt purpose showing “The rebellious future of HR.”

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