JPMorgan Chase expands effort to hire people with criminal pasts

JPMorgan Chase is adding a second city to an 18-month-old hiring program designed to provide jobs to people with criminal records.

The largest U.S. bank by assets — which last year hired about 2,100 people with criminal backgrounds — said Wednesday that it will expand its Second Chance recruitment effort to Columbus, Ohio.Launched in Chicago, the program connects JPMorgan recruiters with local nonprofit organizations that train and mentor convicted adults.

JPMorgan also pledged another $12.5 million to help community organizations in cities such as New York, Los Angeles, Chicago and Nashville connect people with convictions to jobs and entrepreneurial training. The commitment builds on the company’s previous pledge of $7 million.

“Getting a second chance will give people dignity and enable them to earn a higher lifetime income while reducing recidivism and all of its related costs,” said JPMorgan Chase CEO Jamie Dimon.


Earlier this month, JPMorgan Chairman and CEO Jamie Dimon said in his annual shareholder letterthat the U.S. needs to “reduce recidivism, reform the criminal justice system and eliminate barriers to a good job,” and “make it easier” for adults convicted of minor offenses to get jobs. Dimon, who first raised the issuein 2018, said his company is already taking several steps, such as barring questions to job applicants about whether they have a criminal history.

“America believes in second chances and redemptions,” Dimon wrote in his letter, which also addressed racial inequality. “Getting a second chance will give people dignity and enable them to earn a higher lifetime income while reducing recidivism and all of its related costs.”

In Columbus, JPMorgan will partner with nonprofits including the Center for Employment Opportunities, Goodwill Columbus, Columbus Urban League and The Legal Aid Society of Columbus. The organizations will offer career coaching, mock interviews, resume building, skills assessments and other services to help JPMorgan recruit, hire and retain workers with records.

The company also said that it will continue to work on policy changes to remove employment barriers that ultimately play a role in the racial wealth gap. Through the JPMorgan Chase Policy Center, the company has challenged industry rules about who banks can and can’t hire, endorsed a 2019 federal law that helps qualified workers with arrest records get jobs at federal agencies and supported the restoration of access to Pell Grants to help incarcerated individuals pursue post-secondary education while in prison.

Approximately 70 million people in the U.S. have arrest or conviction records, which often reduces their chances of getting hired and contributes to systemic inequality, according to the Policy Center. The issue is especially acute among Blacks, who are more than five times as likely as whites to be put in prison, according to The Sentencing Project, a nonprofit in Washington, D.C., that focuses on criminal justice reform and racial disparities in the criminal justice system.

Also on Wednesday, JPMorgan and 28 other major employers launched the Second Chance Business Coalition, an offshoot of the Business Roundtable that will support hiring and advancement practices for those with records. The group aims to widen the talent pool by developing best practices and launching programs similar to JPMorgan’s Second Chance.

Dimon and Craig Arnold, the chairman and CEO of the power management firm Eaton Corp., will co-chair the group.

“Business has an important role to play in making it easier for people with criminal backgrounds to get back on their feet,” Dimon said in a press release. “Providing a second chance will give people dignity and allow them to provide for their families, and it helps companies like ours expand the number of people we hire to ensure we get the best talent.”

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