It's time to do more to let ex-offenders back into the workforce

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On July 19, President Trump signed an executive order aimed at creating more opportunities for job training amid a shifting demand for skills and education in the U.S. labor market. This initiative was supported by more than 15 major companies, including Walmart, Microsoft, and General Motors, who have pledged to expand apprenticeships and provide more skills-based job training. These companies collectively pledged to train or hire 3.8 million people over the next five years.

This executive order should be applauded, but the administration's pro-growth agenda could go a step further. In a strong labor market, policymakers should focus on helping those with criminal records find work.

According to Trump's executive order, 6.7 million jobs are currently unfilled—a historic high. This labor shortage is incentivizing employers to consider previously-overlooked populations to find talent.

Of the many hurdles ex-offenders face during reentry into society, finding work is arguably the toughest. A 2003 Harvard study found that job applicants with a record of a felony conviction are 50 percent less likely to receive a call back. One-third of adults in the U.S. have past convictions, while 90 percent of companies use background checks in their hiring decisions. This discourages applications from potentially qualified candidates who may have prior convictions while also putting many jobs further out of reach. As a result, one year after release, over 60 percent of former inmates remain unemployed.

It's clear that helping ex-offenders would have significant positive economic effects. The Center for Economic Policy Research finds that lost output from people with criminal records accounts for a loss of $78 to $87 billion in GDP annually. According to an analysis by the Washington State Institute for Public Policy, if we could better incorporate ex-offenders into the workplace, $2,600 would be returned to taxpayers.

Furthermore, helping those with criminal history find employment brings many benefits for public safety, specifically by reducing recidivism. A 2016 Arizona State University study showed that the inability to obtain a job is the best indicator of how likely someone is to re-offend or end up re-incarcerated. Additionally, research from the University of Chicago found that decreases in the overall unemployment rate causes a corresponding drop in the crime rates associated with larceny, auto theft, and burglary, reflecting how much less likely felons are to commit future crimes if they're able to find employment after prison.

The Trump administration has consistently stated its support of improving the reentry process and reducing recidivism. So, what steps should it take? The biggest challenge is identifying how to help individuals released from incarceration adapt to a changing labor market after missing opportunities to gain skills, networks, and a sufficient education while incarcerated.

Employers must play crucial role in advancing fresh start initiatives. Open-minded hiring requires that employers focus on applicants' qualifications and skills, not their history. Fortunately, large corporations such as Starbucks, Target, and Koch Industries are setting a precedent for reform by adopting their own "ban-the-box" policies, where they don't ask job-seekers about prior convictions. This encourages more individuals to apply and helps employers find the best talent.

Another way to help ex-offenders find employment is by reducing regulatory barriers, specifically when it comes to occupational licensing, the practice of government requiring individuals to obtain a license or certification to pursue a particular profession. States such as Kansas, Tennessee, and Indiana passed occupational licensing reforms this year that ease government restrictions on ex-offenders finding work. Specifically, these states ended the use of vague, discretionary standards that enabled licensing authorities to consider past crimes and minor legal violations that are unrelated to the profession being pursued by an applicant. Many of these laws also prohibit licensing authorities from using criminal history as a disqualification for licensure if a set period of time has passed since the applicant's conviction. Now, licensing boards in these states must give specific, relevant reasons for denying a license to someone based on a criminal conviction. As a result, their decisions are more transparent and ex-offenders are presented with fewer barriers when trying to obtain an occupational license. The Trump administration should push more states in this direction.

Simply put, corrections policy needs to promote work. Congress should continue working on legislation such as the First Step Act that passed the House this summer. Legislation like this offers inmates coming out of prison a second chance by implementing programs that prepare individuals for jobs. This is done by providing educational assistance, rehabilitation programs, and vocational skills development.

President Trump can improve his recent executive order by calling for hiring and apprenticeship initiatives that focus specifically on ex-offenders and utilizing the administration's close cooperation with business leaders. This will provide more momentum for state-level reforms that reduce licensing restrictions and other government barriers to work.

Work is the main key to reducing recidivism, thereby strengthening communities and bolstering public safety. With today's booming economy, now is the time to promote reentry reform by attacking burdensome occupational licensing regulations, advancing hiring reform, and creating an environment that encourages ex-offenders to find work. While President Trump is notorious for wanting to build walls, this portion of his agenda must aim to break down barriers.

Mitchell Siegel is an intern at the Foundation for Government Accountability. He is rising junior studying economics at Duke University.

Earlier this year, Coca-Cola became the poster child for how a corporation could shove leftist ideologies onto its consumers. The company suspended advertising on Facebook in a push to censor former President Donald Trump, published a manifesto about racial equity, and demanded all legal teams working for Coke meet certain diversity quotas.

But now, after Trump, Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Tx.), Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ky.), and many other conservative voices called for a boycott of the company's products, Coca-Cola appears to be shifting directions.

The Washington Examiner reported that the company issued a conciliatory statement after conspicuously failing to appear on a published list of hundreds of corporations and individuals that signed a statement denouncing the Georgia voting bill.

"We believe the best way to make progress now is for everyone to come together and listen respectfully, share concerns, and collaborate on a path forward. We remained open and productive conversations with advocacy groups and lawmakers who may have differing views," the company said. "It's time to find common ground. In the end, we all want the same thing – free and fair elections, the cornerstone of our democracy."

Then last week, Coca-Cola Co.'s new general counsel, Monica Howard Douglas, told members of the company's global legal team that the diversity initiative announced by her predecessor, Bradley Gayton, is "taking a pause for now." Gayton resigned unexpectedly from the position on April 21, after only eight months on the job, to serve as a strategic consultant to Chairman and CEO James Quincey.

"Why is Coca-Cola 'taking a pause' on all of these? Because you have been standing up," Glenn Beck said on the radio program Monday. "You and others have been standing up. Your voice, it's the power of one. Your voice makes a difference."

Watch the video below to hear more form Glenn:

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This week on "The Glenn Beck Podcast," civil rights activist and Woodson Center founder Bob Woodson joined Glenn to call out the leftists in the "race grievance industry," like the Rev. Al Sharpton and Black Lives Matter, Inc., who, he says, are "profiting off the misery of their people."

Woodson lived through the appalling segregation laws of the last century and has a much different message about what it means to be "oppressed" than the so-called "anti-racist" activists today.

Woodson said he believes the real struggle for impoverished minority communities "is not racial." He argued that leftists "at the top" derive "moral authority" by claiming to represent "so called marginalized groups," while they prosper at the expense of those "at the bottom."

"There's nothing worse than self-flagellating guilty white people and rich, angry black people who profit off the misery of their people," Woodson said.

"I call what Sharpton and some of those are doing is worse than bigotry. It's treason. It's moral treason against their own people," he added. "The only time you hear from them is when a white police officer kills a black person, which happens maybe 20 or 21 times a year, but 6,000 blacks are killed each year by other blacks. So, in other words, their message is black lives only matter when taken by someone white, which means you are betraying the black community when you turn your back on 20 children that are slaughtered and you don't march in that community and demand that those killers be turned over to the police."

'The problem is not racial," Woodson asserted. "The problem is the challenge of upward mobility. Any time you generalize about a group of people, blacks, whites, Native American, and then you try to apply remedies, it always benefits those at the top at the expense of those at the bottom. ... It's a bait and switch game where you're using the demographics of the worst of these, to get resources that helps the best of these, or those who are prospering at the top. So, if I was the president, I would say an end to the race grievance business, that America should concentrate on the moral and spiritual free fall that is consuming people at the bottom."

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Following President Joe Biden's first joint address to Congress, Glenn Beck joined fellow BlazeTV host and author of the new book, "American Marxism," Mark Levin to expose what they called the "Liar-In-Chief's" radical plans for our country and to explain why the far Left's proposals and programs are really a "frontal attack" on our Constitution, our country, and our way of life.

"Substantively, this is a frontal attack on our Constitutional system of limited government. It is a frontal attack on our capitalist system. He's basically throwing out all the bromides for the radical left groups that now form the base of the modern Democrat Party. And I make the case that ... this is Marxist bullcrap in its broadest sense," Levin stated.

"Here we are, a country now where one man can get up in the middle of the night and make a list of everything he wants to do to the country," he added, speaking figuratively. "It's like an unreality where we're living in separate worlds ... the whole thing is a fraud."

Watch the video clip below to hear Levin expose the lies and misinformation in Biden's speech and explain why he believes the true message is absolutely chilling for the future of our nation:

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After months of delays and COVID-19 excuses, President Biden finally delivers his address to the joint session of Congress. It is a truly historic moment, as only a few hundred members of Congress received an invite. While some have compared this speech to JFK's moon landing challenge, it will likely be more like FDR's New Deal nightmare. Will Speaker Pelosi continue her tradition of ripping up the president's speech? Will VP Harris cackle to a quiet audience?

Glenn Beck teams up with fellow BlazeTV host Mark Levin, author of the new book "American Marxism," to take on the progressive plans that could completely transform our economy and our way of life. Steve Deace, BlazeTV host and author of "Faucian Bargain," joins to discuss why it's not enough for conservatives to just lament the dangerous Democrat agenda; we must activate against the woke infection of our institutions. Plus, a power panel to rival CNN talking heads: Stu Burguiere, BlazeTV host of "Stu Does America," and Jason Buttrill, head researcher and writer for Glenn Beck.

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