For most released inmates, the prison bars extend to cover the front doors of any job they seek. According to a recent article, 640,000 people are released from prisons across the U.S. each year and only one third find employment within the first year. As research shows, employment goes a long way to prevent recidivism. Furthermore, those employed shortly after release have even better odds.

The statistics supporting immediate employment of former inmates as a means to reduce recidivism are staggering. In one study in North Carolina, the statewide recidivism rate was 40.7 percent. When a population categorized by police as “…violent offenders who were most likely to re-offend…” received immediate job placements out of prison, that number went down to just five percent.

One young Ohio entrepreneur, realizing that many former inmates were significantly more motivated to succeed in entry-level jobs, decided to put this population to work in one of his new businesses, Hot Chicken Takeover. That entrepreneur, Joe DeLoss, opened his first location of the fast food restaurant about four years ago and it’s been wildly successful in every measure.

Here are a few examples of what sets Joe DeLoss apart:

  • Motivated employee base. Seventy percent of his 150 employees were at one time imprisoned, homeless, recovering addicts or people who otherwise struggled to find employment. Hot Chicken Takeover’s employees appreciate the job opportunity in a way that many others could never understand.
  • Living wages. It’s not only a job that reduces recidivism, it’s a job that pays a living wage. DeLoss pays his employees an average of $12 per hour (including tips) and “…offers additional matching funds to help employees save up for housing, transportation and education. His HR team can refer them to services such as discounted legal aid, mental health counseling or landlords willing to overlook their checkered past…”
  • Internal promotion. Hot Chicken Takeover has committed to hiring seventy-five percent of its management and administration from within. This kind of practice is rarely seen, and likely adds to the restaurants very low industry turnover rates.

For many people who have struggled to find employment, working in a place like this gives them hope in their ability to remain in society and provide for themselves and their families. As Joe DeLoss is proving, this alternative hiring practice is to the benefit of everyone.