New York becomes the state of second chances

Governor Andrew M. Cuomo this week announced the official launch of the Work for Success Pledge, an online pledge in which businesses commit to consider hiring qualified individuals with criminal convictions. New York is the first state in the nation to develop such a pledge. More than 80 companies who do business in New York, including Fresh Direct, the Target Corporation, Staples, and VICE Media, have already signed on to the pledge. Other employers are encouraged to sign on at

“Providing job training and opportunities to New Yorkers with criminal histories is proven to help break the vicious cycle of recidivism and increase public safety,” Governor Cuomo said. “The Work for Success Pledge will help provide a chance for these individuals to reenter society and build stronger communities. I thank these businesses for signing up for this critically important program and I urge others to join them.”?

Lieutenant Governor Hochul said, “When we write off segments of our population because of a single set of circumstances or mistakes made in their past, we deny society of their contributions, and they are denied a chance at a better life. Governor Cuomo’s Work for Success Pledge helps bring formally incarcerated individuals into the mainstream, economically and socially, while helping connect employers to a qualified workforce. Let’s remember Jesse Hawley, the man who crafted the original blueprint of the Erie Canal, had a criminal record – and without him, one of the greatest public works of all time may not have been created.”

The Work for Success Employer Pledge was launched at an event held today at VICE Media in Brooklyn. The event featured Lieutenant Governor Kathy Hochul, secretary of State Rossana Rosado, and Alphonso David, Counsel to the governor, as well as representatives from Action Environmental, Ben & Jerry’s, ConBody, and VICE Media, and Chris Watler, executive director for Center for Employment Opportunities New York, who discussed the benefits of hiring formerly incarcerated individuals.

The governor also announced that over 18,000 formerly incarcerated people have been hired through New York’s Work for Success program.  The program, launched in February 2012, connects individuals with criminal convictions with jobs through the New York State Department of Labor’s job bank, at no cost to the listing businesses or the individual job-seeker. To date, over 14,000 businesses have hired qualified employees through the program, giving those businesses the talent they need to run their businesses and stay competitive, and giving employees a much-needed way to support themselves and their families, benefitting all New Yorkers. Companies signing the Work for Success Employer Pledge also agree to list suitable jobs with the Work for Success program.

Nearly 1 in 3 American adults have a criminal record of some kind, and there are 2.3 million individuals with a prior New York State criminal conviction. Currently, only 47 percent of people able to work on NYS parole are employed.

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