Company CEO challenges others to hire some of the more than 600,000 formerly incarcerated individuals released annually
Since 2017, April has been known as “Second Chance Month.” With a hiring department committed to hiring the formerly incarcerated, ViaPath Technologies helps them re-enter society with gainful employment. Working with various partners, ViaPath provides everything from education and job training to self-help, money management, and assistance with job placement.
“With the current challenges many employers are facing in finding qualified talent across the U.S., companies need to ensure that individuals with criminal backgrounds receive the same consideration as other applicants and make concrete efforts to hire formerly incarcerated individuals,” said Deb Alderson, CEO of ViaPath Technologies.
Alderson’s personal experience with an incarcerated family member became a deep-seated passion for providing second chances for returning citizens. “Everyone deserves a second chance,” she added. “I encourage companies, corporations and organizations to join us in providing those second chances to the many deserving formerly incarcerated individuals.”
Recently, under Alderson’s direction, ViaPath Technologies launched a robust Reintegration Services program and is dedicating more than $5 million over the next two years to ensure its success. ViaPath provides tablets to incarcerated individuals that include educational curriculum, financial literacy courses, industry-accredited vocational certifications, life skills and training on everything from working in the restaurant industry to launching a new business and becoming an entrepreneur.
The company is working with partners to enhance its free education and training content on its tablets, as well as job boards and an employment arm that will assist the current and formerly incarcerated in finding jobs. “We don’t just talk about second chances, we provide them,” said Alderson.
Antonio Sadler is one of the company’s second chance hires. Sadler served 10 years in a prison in South Carolina. While incarcerated, he used a ViaPath Technologies tablet and says it “immediately had a positive impact.” In addition to being able to communicate with loved ones and also gain access to online educational materials, Sadler said he was able to learn life-skills from the ViaPath tablet. Today, he is a full-time associate product manager for ViaPath.
“Antonio and our other second chance hires, including both formerly incarcerated as well as justice-impacted employees, have filled critical job openings at ViaPath,” said Jessica Artz, chief human resources officer at ViaPath Technologies. “These employees are now part of our family. They go above and beyond, and have a lot to give and teach us all.”
Artz continued, “What other companies may not realize is that there are many formerly incarcerated individuals who took the initiative to further their education and gain vocational training and job skills. Their experience often makes them more qualified than candidates that just got out of school. Companies just need to commit to hiring them.”
According to the U.S. Dept. of Health & Human Services (HHS), more than 600,000 individuals across the U.S. are released from state and federal prisons each year. The agency also reports that more than two-thirds of those released are likely to be re-arrested within three years due to a lack of training, reintegration skills, and employment opportunities.
With ViaPath Technologies tablets in correctional facilities across the U.S., incarcerated individuals can access the necessary training and other curricula needed in preparation for reintegration and in finding and securing employment.
“We have a great group of partners and are constantly adding more to assist us in providing a wealth of content and assistance with education, career development and other resources and a chance to connect with employers,” Alderson said. “With so many employment needs across numerous industries countrywide, we see hiring formerly incarcerated as an opportunity to bridge the gap in the current employment crisis.”
“The crisis could finally force companies who wouldn’t consider hiring formerly incarcerated before, to now take a look at them,” Alderson added. “Providing a second chance is a way to break the incarceration cycle and provide companies with an eager-to-work employment pool. At the end o the day, we’re helping to ensure that those facing reintegration have access to the tools they need to be successful.”