We all want to believe in second chances. Who doesn’t? But when it comes to employment for formerly incarcerated individuals, do employers live what they preach? Do employers really care to take a risk for a second chance for someone with a record?  

National statistics reveal the truth for a systematic problem for the formerly incarcerated population. Over 27% of formerly incarcerated individuals are unemployed. That rate is higher than the national average for some of our nation’s worst economic periods, including the Great Depression.  1  

What does the stat reveal? It shows that formerly incarcerated individuals want to work but face many difficulties in finding employment. Why can’t these individuals get a job? Data suggests that criminal record, race, and gender – all play a part in the employment process.    

Employers may like the idea, in theory or politically, of hiring a former inmate to offer a second chance, but statistics reveal that is not always enough for securing employment. Employers want to see change and growth since sentencing, but many companies do not begin to look at a candidate until 7 years after incarceration. Studies further show that formerly incarcerated individuals have the hardest time securing a job during the first 2 years following release. This is also the period that we see recidivism rates at their highest. These two factors go hand in hand.   

There clearly is a gap in thought and action for employing formerly incarcerated individuals, and this gap is a bigger problem in labor market failings. For an incarcerated individual to get a job and land back on their feet, they need help, proof of growth, and documented change since incarceration.  2  

VendEngine is passionate about reducing recidivism. The leading cause of recidivism is lack of employment. In recognizing this cycle for the formerly incarcerated individual and unemployment rates, VendEngine created the Resource Project as an effort to make a difference for this demographic of individuals.   

The Resource Project uses resources and connections to assist in preparing the incarcerated individual for re-entry and employment long before release. VendEngine uses our wide scope of connections and resources to facilities nationwide to connect inmates with job trainings, education, certification training, mentorship and even interview assistance.     

We hope that the more we can do to help an inmate re-enter society successfully and achieve employment after re-entry the more we can make a difference for a bigger problem. If you are interested in mentoring or assisting in employment preparation for incarcerated individuals, please reach out to us at  sd3@theresourceproject.org.  Together we can help offer second chances.     


  1. Prison Policy –  https://www.prisonpolicy.org/reports/outofwork.html    
  1. “‘Change’ Frames and the Mobilization of Social Capital for Formerly Incarcerated Job Seekers “- Harvard Kennedy School (HKS Authors) – by Sandra Susan Smith  https://www.hks.harvard.edu/publications/change-frames-and-mobilization-social-capital-formerly-incarcerated-job-seekers