Research shows over 30 percent of individuals who return to their community after prison are incarcerated again within three years of their release. While employment does not guarantee successful re-entry into society, statistics suggest obtaining a job can help in a major way.
It’s uncommon to see, but we don’t ask on an employment application whether the applicant has been convicted of a crime. Instead, we give individuals a second chance for a successful reentry into the general population. Once a person is hired, they can choose whether to make their history publically known or not. Some choose to, and some don’t. It falls within our commitment to inclusion and making sure everyone is given an equal chance at success.
Jahaun McKinley: Why should we give somebody that's been in prison a second chance? This person is still a part of the community at large. I think that you have to look in and say that this person will continue to be a part of our community. Why not give them a second chance?
I grew up in Grand Rapid, Michigan, started my elementary school here, middle school, and high school. At the age of 18, I was [00:00:30] incarcerated. I would spend the next 19 years in prison. As I was approaching parole, I was very determined to beat the odds, and so everything that I did was calculated from the point that I'm not going to be a statistic. I knew that I was going to be a worker for Cascade Engineering. That was my dream.
The first day at Cascade I felt as though I had arrived. I was willing to do any [00:01:00] work because this company had given me a second chance, knowing that most employers would not even look at a person with a criminal background, so it rooted a sense of loyalty to this company. I was promoted to a supervisor within a year, and I was recently promoted to a lean manufacturing manager.
Success is when potential meets opportunity, and so now my potential is to grow, so when the next opportunity [00:01:30] comes around it's successful. To my knowledge, there has never been an African American director in operations, and so I want to be the first African American director of operations.
Fred Keller: Oh, I think you said you wanted my job.
Jahaun McKinley: Yes, but I [crosstalk 00:01:47].
Now, I've been granted the ability to go into the juvenile systems and talk to the young men about their course, their life course, and redirect their life and change their journey, and Cascade [00:02:00] puts its stamp of approval on that.