Norris Calls For Conversation On Helping Those With Criminal Records Get Jobs

Monday, June 30, 2014

Tennessee Senate Majority Leader Mark Norris, chairman of the Council of State Governments (CSG), called on all states to convene their respective business leaders to discuss ways in which government can help—and hinder—efforts to improve employment outcomes for people with criminal records.

The announcement came after his “State Pathways to Prosperity” initiative inspired a meeting Monday at the White House, bringing together business executives and local, state, and federal government officials to help crystalize obstacles between the public and private sectors preventing the hiring of those with prior convictions.

“Elected officials across the political spectrum are focusing on high unemployment rates among millions of adults with criminal records,” Senator Norris said. “We recognize that government alone can’t solve this problem. Today is a terrific demonstration of the kind of private-sector dialogue we need to design strategies that are good for business and that put people who are now law-abiding citizens to work. We’re calling on all states to have the same kind of conversations at the state level.”

The event, coordinated by The White House Domestic Policy Council, the CSG Justice Center, and the National Reentry Resource Center, featured a roundtable of executives from small-, medium-, and large-sized businesses, including Home Depot and Johns Hopkins Hospital and Health System, as well as policymakers from all levels of government.

“Today’s conversation highlights how businesses need to be thoughtful about these types of hiring decisions to ensure we address the estimated 65 million people of working age who have criminal records in this country,” Senator Norris said. “A criminal record isn’t something that should be ignored, but, depending on how it relates to the responsibilities of the position advertised, it’s also not something that should automatically disqualify someone from a job.”

Senator Norris hopes the latest discussions will serve as motivation for similar conversations to begin in individual states across the country. He also noted that, for those states interested in coordinating discussions between the public and private sectors, the National Reentry Resource Center is prepared to provide guidance and assistance.

The State Pathways to Prosperity is a 2014 initiative designed to encourage states to enact changes to bolster the skills of American workers to ensure they meet the demands of companies and secure employment. The gap between employer demand and the number of qualified workers is widening due to a variety of factors, including children living in poverty, people battling hunger and poor nutrition, veterans’ difficulties in meeting certification and degree requirements, and people who have been involved in the criminal justice system.

“The jobs are available for the people with the skills to secure them,” Senator Norris said. “We have a unique opportunity to help train these individuals and prepare them for the workforce upon their release from prison or jail. Finding employment is the toughest challenge they’ll face, but it’s also a pivotal step towards staying out of lockup and being a productive member of society.”

 


Unum Appoints David Hill As New AVP Of Aviation

David Hill has joined Unum as assistant vice president of aviation, where he will oversee the company’s corporate aviation team of 13 that is based in Chattanooga. Mr. Hill joins Unum following an 18 year career with Duke Energy in Charlotte, N.C., where he led a fleet of 10 and a team of 42. A veteran, Mr. Hill dedicated 27 years to the U.S. National Guard, and 10 years ... (click for more)

Clint Powell: I Can Do That Myself!

Asking tough questions is sometimes…well…tough! That just makes sense right? However, knowing that tough questions are tough to ask…doesn’t mean they are still not…well...tough! Shoot…I did it again. Captain Obvious on the job. Well, what kind of tough questions are we talking about? There are quite a few I could spend time on. ‘How old are you?’ – ‘How much do you weigh?’ – ‘Is ... (click for more)

Harr Outlines $40 Million Plan For Chattanooga Light Rail System

Outgoing Chamber of Commerce President Ron Harr on Monday outlined a $40 million plan for a Chattanooga light rail system that would serve not only downtown, but also the Airport and the Enterprise South Industrial Park. In a speech to the Chattanooga Engineers Club, Mr. Harr said most cities looking at such an ambitious plan "would be facing costs of over a billion dollars." ... (click for more)

Chattanooga Choo Choo Adding Clubs, Restaurants In $8 Million Renovation

The historic Chattanooga Choo Choo is adding clubs and restaurants in a $7 million renovation, it was announced in front of the South Market Street landmark on Monday morning. The Comedy Catch will be moving from its longtime home in Brainerd and there will be a new 500-person music venue that will be in addition to Track 29. The new venue, managed by Track 29, will feature a ... (click for more)

Senator Bob Corker: An Open Letter To Tennesseans

We are incredibly fortunate to live in a state in which companies worldwide are clamoring to establish a presence. Many attribute it to our pro-business culture, well-prepared workforce, low tax environment, right-to-work policies, and engaged citizenry.  That is why the announcement by Volkswagen to build its midsize sports utility vehicle and establish the South’s ... (click for more)

Roy Exum: Wamp Refuses To Stoop

With less than two weeks before the Aug. 7 th election and the last week of early voting now underway in Hamilton County, Congressional challenger Weston Wamp sounded upbeat and relaxed early yesterday afternoon. “I’m pleased to say that I believe we are right where we need to be … maybe even more than we had hoped.” Wamp, who is challenging two-term incumbent Chuck Fleishmann ... (click for more)