Criminal Justice Reform

A growing number of chambers are championing Criminal Justice Reform efforts that reduce crime, improve public safety, develop the workforce pipeline,and build thriving and inclusive regional economies. Smart Justice addresses criminal justice issues holistically by examining the connections betweencrime and opportunities for education, employment, mental health and addiction support, housing and social inclusion. Chambers are uniquely positionedto build cross-sector coalitions that address key issues such as corrections reform, diversion andprevention, sentencing reform, justice reinvestment, education, and employment. For more information, contact Will Burns at

ACCE Resources

Reentry & Employment: Fair Chance Hiring

Within three years of release, about two-thirds (67.8 percent) of released prisoners arerearrested. Employment is a key factor in reducing recidivism. Many chambers are helping their members grow their talent pool by hiring people with criminal records.

Articles & Research

  • The Society of Human Resource Management's Getting Talent Back to Work Toolkit empowers business and HR leaders to confidently evaluate applicants with criminal records by equipping them with the latest research, evidence-based best practices and industry guidance needed to reduce legal liability and increase inclusive hiring from this untapped talent pool.

Chamber Examples

  • The Greenville Chamber of Commerce hosted a Workforce Forum and Re-entry Job Fair, where businesses learned the biggest issues facing businesses in hiring, highlighting the work being done by local agencies, and pushing the policy fixes they believe need to be made.
  • The Indy Chamber launched the ReEntry Entrepreneurship Development Initiative (REDi), which addresses the likely connection between entrepreneurship and reducing the rate of re-offending by providing technical business training and education to incarcerated and formerly-incarcerated individuals.
  • JAX Case Study: Project Open Door
  • Los Angeles Area Chamber
    • The LA Chamber conducted focus groups during March-June 2016 with 17 HR/Talent Acquisition Directors from trusted L.A. businesses to learn more about hiring practices regarding formerly incarcerated individuals and those that have criminal records **The Los Angeles Area Chamber was charged, as part of a taskforce co-chaired by a Chamber staff member, with developing a plan to launch public-private partnerships to help Prop 47-eligible—a California ballot initiative passed in November 2014 that reclassified several non-violent, non-serious felonies as misdemeanors—residents access employment and training services, mental health, healthcare, housing and substance abuse counseling. See the Report here. **See more Los Angeles Chamber Smart Justice Samples

Programs & Tools

Sentencing Reform

Sentencing and corrections reform has not been a traditional business issue, but in many states spending on corrections is one of the top line expenses. As stewards of taxpayer dollars, state and local governments must take a critical look at all spending and reevaluate the return on investment. Several states, including Oklahoma City, Kansas, Texas, Kentucky, and Arkansas, have passed sentencing and corrections reform in recent years to curb costs and maintain public safety. one inmate locked up. In 2014, the Chamber released another report 5 years later (2014) detailing how they addressed the trendsetting issue.

Chamberpedia Home| Education and Workforce Development | Criminal Justice Reform|Page Created: 10/2/2017

Last Updated: 12/1/2019

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