Reentry MythBusters are designed by the National Reentry Resource Center to clarify existing federal policies that affect formerly incarcerated individuals and their families such as public housing, employment, parental rights, Medicaid suspension/termination, voting rights and more. They are helpful for:
- Prison, jail, probation, community corrections, and parole officials who want to ensure that individuals can access healthcare, behavioral health treatment, and federal benefits, as appropriate, immediately upon release to help stabilize the critical first days and weeks after incarceration. Pre‐release applications and procedures are available for certain federal benefits (veterans, Social Security, food assistance, and student financial aid).
- Reentry service providers and faith‐based organizations who want to understand the laws and policies related to public housing, employment, VA services, child support options, and parental rights while incarcerated.
- Employers and workforce development specialists who are interested in the incentives and protections involved in hiring formerly convicted individuals. The Reentry MythBusters are also helpful to employers who want to better understand the appropriate use of a criminal record in making hiring decisions.
- States and local agencies that want to understand, modify or eliminate restrictions on benefits (TANF, SNAP) for people who have been convicted of drug felonies.
Examples on this page are from the Council of State Governments’ Justice Center, Federal Interagency Reentry Council’s Reentry MythBusters series. Additional Mythbusters can be found on their website. It is important that fatherhood programs properly understand the facts surrounding the hiring of previously incarcerated individuals so they can better support these individuals in their path to self-sufficiency.
Tips & Best Practices
- Myth: Businesses have no protections if they hire a dishonest employee. Fact: Businesses and employers should know that if they hire an individual that proves to be dishonest, they have protections from property ad monetary losses through the Federal Bonding Program. Fidelity insurance bonds are available to indemnify employers for loss of money or property sustained through the dishonest acts of at-risk job seekers, including formerly incarcerated individuals employees (i.e., theft, forgery, larceny, and embezzlement). This tool has proven to be extremely successful with only 1% of the bonds ever issued resulting in a claim.
- Myth: An employer can get a copy of an applicant's criminal history without their permission. Fact: According to the Fair Credit Reporting Act, employers must receive a person’s permission, usually in writing, before asking a background screening company to run a criminal history report for that person. If an applicant does not permit the background check, the potential employer may elect not to review his or her application for employment. If an applicant permits the background check and then is denied employment because of information in the report, the potential employer must follow several legal obligations to justify that denial. These include providing applicants with the name, address, and telephone number of the company that supplied the criminal history report; advising them of their right to dispute the accuracy or completeness of any information in the report; and explaining that they have the right to request an additional free report from the same company.
- Myth: Employers are offered no federal income tax advantage by hiring an ex-felon. Fact: Employers can save money on their federal income taxes through the Work Opportunity Tax Credit by hiring ex-felons.
Since 2005, the Texas Offenders Reentry Initiative (T.O.R.I.), operated by Metroplex Economic Development Corporation, has served over 10,000 formerly incarcerated individuals across Texas. Support services focus on key reentry issues such as housing, employment, family reunification, parenting, education, and healthcare.
Who developed the Reentry MythBusters?
The Federal Interagency Reentry Council is comprised of more than 20 federal agencies, working to coordinates federal reentry efforts and advances effective reentry policies.
Where are the Reentry MythBusters housed?
The Reentry MythBusters are housed at the National Reentry Resource Center. Funded and administered by the U.S. Department of Justice’s Bureau of Justice Assistance (BJA), the National Reentry Resource Center (NRRC) is the nation’s primary source of information and guidance in reentry.
Why are reentry initiatives so important?
Reentry initiatives enhance community safety and well-being, assist those returning from prison and jail in becoming productive citizens, and save taxpayer dollars by lowering the direct and collateral costs of incarceration.