Respect for ex-convicts is a successful business model

Video Thumbnail
Hot Chicken, Fair Chance

Hot Chicken Takeover of Columbus, Ohio serves Nashville-style hot chicken and has a brilliant business model: hire ex-cons and treat them with respect. This 4-minute documentary will give you the feels and the thinks.

Owner Joe Deloss says:

We’re building a business. It’s growing rapidly, and so we hire high character and high hustle and high capacity people. The majority of our team members — probably 60 to 70 percent — have been affected by a criminal record or incarceration in the past.

60 to 70 percent might sound risky to some people, but there’s another number all Americans should remember: 33%.

One in three adult Americans right now have some form of criminal record. This isn’t a small subset of our community. This is America. I can’t reiterate enough that a person’s criminal record is not indicative of a person’s character.

One third of Americans have criminal records, as many as have college degrees. And those Americans are half as likely to get hired as the rest. A large percentage of these so-called criminals were drug addicts. They had an illness, but instead of getting them medical care, we jailed them.

Portugal decided that arresting drug addicts is so barbaric—and useless in stopping its heroin epidemic—that it decriminalized drug use in 2001 and instead helps addicts get treatment. Drug use fell, as did new HIV infection. In recent years, the number of overdose deaths is a few dozen per year. In the US, it’s over 50,000.

Having a job is one of the best ways to stay free of a relapse into addiction. It’s not the fear of drug tests. It’s the feeling of dignity, of knowing that someone considers you trustworthy enough to hire. If you grow up with parents who lose faith in you or abandon you, schools that write you off, corporations that only respect you if you have money to spend, you’ll fall for a drug that makes you feel, at least for a while, the happiness you’ve been craving. Then the criminal justice system treats you not as a person with an illness but hardly a person at all. So do most employers when you get out

It sounds too simple, but it works. As one of HCT’s managers put it:

I would have taken a job anywhere, and I got the door slammed in my face… which made me feel, like you know, about this big. But I came here, and he’s like “I’m gonna give you a chance.” It just makes you grateful. I’m gonna bust my butt and do what I can, you know, first of all ’cause I’m going to keep my job, but I’ve become loyal to that employer because they gave me the chance.

The “Ban the Box” campaign has led half the states and the federal government to stop asking about people’s criminal records on job applications.  Unfortunately, there’s growing evidence that instead of giving more people a chance, many employers just discriminate more broadly, basically assuming that all black and brown applicants are probably ex-convicts. Isn’t that a kick in the pants? First rule of policy making: people don’t do what they should, but what they want, as long as they can get away with it. Effective policy means getting people to want to do the right thing. Sometimes they do it because it makes them feel good. Sometimes because it makes them money. Hot Chicken Takeover does it for both reasons.

A former robber who works there explained the economics of it perfectly:

I would tell an employer that you paid taxes for that individual be incarcerated. So what do you want on your rate of return? You’re getting a person that not only needs a job, but wants a job. So don’t be afraid to give this person an opportunity.

Source: Hot Chicken, Fair Chance | The Marshall Project

Inalienable: the pursuit of happiness

We pursue wealth hoping it will bring happiness. But as sad, angry rich people everywhere can tell you, that can fail (and make you feel pathetic). Old Capitalism built our world, but it brings violence and exploitation. New Capitalists believe we deserve better.

What if we pursued happiness directly, and treated money as a side effect? What if we did it both individually and as a society? That’s the central question of this blog. Whether you’re an economist, entrepreneur, activist, or just tired of systems of violence and foolishness, I’ll bet you agree it’s worth answering.



Tags

What I’m reading:


Member of The Internet Defense League

By | 2017-07-16T08:42:50+00:00 July 15th, 2017|Profit|0 Comments