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Thousands of VA Prisoners May Be Released Early Under Earned Sentence Credit Program

State prison officials estimate that as many as 4500 offenders will be eligible for release when the provisions of a bill dealing with earned sentence credits takes effect on July 1st of this year.  In response Dr. Heather Lyall offered the following in support of the program:

“A study published in the International Journal of Offender Therapy and Comparative Criminology has proven that unemployed ex-prisoners were more likely to recidivate than their unemployed counterparts.

As a business owner myself and having worked in Human Resources and business for many years, I have seen business owners publicly applaud second-chance hiring initiatives but work diligently to hire someone without a criminal record or in recovery. Our state continues to have difficulties with second-chance hiring initiatives. Business owners are reluctant to hire second-chance employees which makes finding work difficult even in the current economic state. Throughout the country, we have ban-the-box laws and offered tax incentives, but business owners are still reluctant to hire second-chance employees which makes finding work difficult for people in reentry.

If we do not work with our business owners and teach them about second-chance hiring, the effect will be an increase in crime and recidivism because individuals may return to the actions that led to their original incarceration. Business owners need to start looking at second-chance hiring from a different perspective. They need to understand that the myths they believed in the past are not real. Second-chance hiring is an amazing way to boost your profits while creating a corporate social responsibility project that affects the communities they serve.

I have a Doctorate in Business specializing in Industrial and Organizational Psychology. I am also a Senior Certified Professional in Human Resources through SHRM and have spent the last 8 years working with convicted felons and those in stages of recovery in the construction industry as a Virginia licensed contractor. I have just completed my first book which will be published in May titled, “Those Kind of People”.

This book is written from the perspective of a business owner to lessen the fears and concerns other business owners may be having concerning second-chance hiring. It is a book about second chance hiring from a business owner’s perspective. There are thousands of books and pamphlets teaching convicted felons and individuals in recovery how to get a job but this book is to help business owners hire, work with, and retain individuals in second-chance situations. I am pleased to say that I have interviewed Dave Dahl (Dave’s Killer Bread) and Lawrence Carpenter (From ABC’s Free Enterprise) for the book also.

I’m hoping the book will help make a positive change in the lives of those who have faced incarceration and we can make our world a better place.”

Dr. Heather Lyall

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