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Hiring Managers Urged to Take Second Look at Former Prisoners

Release Date:
3/14/2013 9:00 PM

March 14, 2013

Industrial Organizational Psychology, features

HAMDEN, CONN. – The University of New Haven student chapter of the Society of Human Resource Management and the Human Resource Association of Greater New Haven (HRAGNH) are hosting a speaker on Tuesday, March 19, who will discuss hiring former prison inmates.

The speaker, Marilyn B. Kendrix, a UNH alumna and adjunct professor, will discuss "Turning Away Talent: Implications of Not Considering Applicants with Minor Offenses on their Record."  

The program will take place at Eli’s on Whitney on Rt. 10 at 5:30 p.m. Kendrix, a longtime human resources and organizational development professional in the telecommunication industry, says she is committed to building awareness about the poverty caused by the mass incarceration that has occurred during the last 35 years.  Many of the individuals – often minority males – who landed in prison for nonviolent crimes, are unable to find work once they are released from prison.

Kendrix, who teaches conflict management at UNH, says the result is poverty for those individuals.  

“Human resources professionals have an opportunity to act in a socially responsible manner and reduce poverty in their communities by questioning the barriers to employment experienced by applicants who served time for minor offenses,” she says.

Stuart Sidle, chair of the UNH psychology and sociology department, director of the industrial-organizational psychology graduate programs and faculty advisor to the Society of Human Resources Club at UNH, says job application processes that weed out ex-offenders make it very difficult for someone who was convicted of a minor offense to land a job interview.

“And even if they make it to the interview process, interviewers are often biased,” he says. “Research indicates that interviewers usually make up their mind about a job candidate in the first several minutes of the interview and then spend the rest of the time confirming their initial opinion. Consequently, it can be very difficult for an ex-offender to succeed in an interview when the hiring manager already has a negative impression.”  

Sidle says the presentation will help human resources managers gain awareness of a double standard in society.  “Would we expect companies to not interview or hire our own children or friends for a minor offense committed in early adulthood?” Sidle says. “On the other hand, how would we view a stranger who has a minor offense on their record?  I think professor Kendrix will help us see that we have double standards and that this double standard hurts our most vulnerable communities in the New Haven area.”

The event is open to the public and walk-ins are welcome.  The cost is $40 for members of the Human Resource Association of Greater New Haven; $55 for non-members; and $25 for in-transition members. UNH graduate students can attend for free.

The University of New Haven is a private, top-tier comprehensive institution recognized as a national leader in experiential education. Founded in 1920 on the campus of Yale University in cooperation with Northeastern University, UNH moved to its current West Haven campus in 1960. The University operates a satellite campus in Tuscany, Italy, and offers programs at several locations throughout Connecticut and in New Mexico and California. UNH provides its students with a unique combination of a solid liberal arts education and real-world, hands-on career and research opportunities. The University enrolls approximately 6,400 students, including nearly 1,800 graduate students and more than 4,600 undergraduates – the majority of whom reside in University housing. Through its College of Arts and Sciences, College of Business, Henry C. Lee College of Criminal Justice and Forensic Sciences, Tagliatela College of Engineering, and College of Lifelong & eLearning, UNH offers 75 undergraduate and graduate degree programs. UNH students have access to more than 50 study abroad programs worldwide and its student-athletes compete in 16 varsity sports in the NCAA Division II’s highly competitive Northeast-10 Conference.