Written By ESR News Blog Editor Thomas Ahearn

An Illinois man with a criminal record who realized ex-offenders face challenges to avoid going back to prison in a state where the rate of recidivism – the tendency of a convicted criminal to re-offend – is 43 percent started a program to help former inmates released to their communities “find employment, housing, and counseling,” according to a report from WAND-TV NBC Channel 17 in Decatur, Illinois.

WAND-TV’s “Life After Prison Special Report” interviewed Lynard Joiner, a man who spent 17 years in federal prison for drug dealing and then founded S.I.N.G. – which stands for “Shift Into New Gear” – after he was released in 2011. S.I.N.G will “serve some 350 ex-offenders this year” and so far “has seen a 95 percent success rate in keeping ex-offenders from returning” to prison, WAND-TV reports.

“We provide what we call a road map for services. We help them find employment, housing, vocational training, we give them mental health, we partner with a lot of different agencies to provide to lead to self sufficiency,” Joiner told WAND-TV. “But I’m kind of disappointed in the help I am not getting, which is from the state, the city, and the county. I feel they could do more.”

WAND-TV reports statistics from the Illinois Department of Corrections show 479 inmates were released to Sangamon County, 563 inmates were released to Macon County, and 508 inmates were released to Champaign County in 2017. Since Illinois has a recidivism rate of 43 percent, many ex-offenders will “return to prison within 3 years, even sooner without a job and it’s costing taxpayers money.”

However, the Illinois Policy Institute claims if ex-offenders find employment within a year after being released from prison, the recidivism rate drops to 16 percent. The Institute supports an Illinois House Bill 665 (HB 665) that would reduce prison both prison overcrowding and recidivism while shielding employers from frivolous lawsuits for hiring ex-offenders. HB 665 has not yet been called for a vote.

In February 2018, ESR News reported that employers having trouble finding workers with the U.S. unemployment rate at 4.1 percent are turning to inmates and ex-offenders. While 95 percent of the approximately 2.3 million Americans behind bars will be released, a 2008 study by the Urban Institute’s Justice Policy Center found only 45 percent of men released from prison had a job eight months later.

ESR Can Help Ex-Offenders Get Back In the Workforce

Employment Screening Resources (ESR) knows millions of ex-offenders have rehabilitated themselves and become productive members of society and so offers an Ex-Offender Resources page that may be helpful for those applicants with criminal records who are attempting to re-enter the workforce. The page is available at

ESR also offers a complimentary whitepaper entitled “Ten Critical Steps for Ex-Offenders to Get Back into the Workforce” to help job applicants with criminal records with the difficult – but not impossible – task of finding employment after prison. The whitepaper is available at

“ESR is a longtime supporter of measures to help ex-offenders get back in the workforce and that protecting employers who have knowledge of a person’s past criminal offense that makes a reasonable decision to hire them is a critical element of any effort to do that,” explains ESR founder and CEO Attorney Lester Rosen, a noted background check expert and the author of ‘The Safe Hiring Manual.’

NOTE: Employment Screening Resources® (ESR) does not provide or offer legal services or legal advice of any kind or nature. Any information on this website is for educational purposes only.

© 2018 Employment Screening Resources® (ESR) – Making copies or using of any part of the ESR News Blog or ESR website for any purpose other than your own personal use is prohibited unless written authorization is first obtained from ESR.

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