Finding Work as a Returning Citizen

Tags & Categories
returning citizen  •  Employer  •  Insights

Employers have made it hard for returning citizens to find jobs, with the main deterrent being the fact that they have a criminal record. Formerly incarcerated individuals must state if they have been involved in any crime or have any criminal offenses (Suder, 2021) and are often given little room to explain themselves or the growth they have experienced since. Employers are often hesitant to accept returning citizens in fear that they are not a reliable long-term employee or that they have a higher chance of causing conflicts in the workplace. Many of these worries are due to stigma and a lack of knowledge and awareness of returning citizens and how much they go through to better themselves. 

"There are many more hoops to jump through for employers to even consider them as viable candidates. Because of deep-rooted stigma, a lot of employers will turn down ex-convicts because of their past.

Academic research by Sydney Johnson has stated that inmates aged 50 and over make up 16% of the national prison population. This suggests they expect one third of the prison population to be over 55 by 2030 (Johnson, 2020). It is further stated that preparing older workers for the changing nature of work must become a national economic priority (Officer, 2022). According to an article by CWI Labs, this is due to the aging US population causing the job market to be dominated by older individuals, and over the next few decades, about one in five Americans will be 65 or older (Officer, 2022). Occupations that will drive long-term growth will require retraining and upskilling (Officer, 2022). What this means for returning citizens is that it will be even more crucial for those who re-enter society at an older age to receive further education and high-quality support from organizations like Jobs for Humanity which provide job leads.

16% of inmates nationwide are aged 50 and up.

Incarcerated individuals have extremely limited access to computers and any technology while incarcerated. Because of this, their skills in research and using this technology will be limited, especially if they have been in prison for many years and/or from an early age. This means that reaching returning citizens through channels like social media or digital content will be quite difficult and will not be the best approach. Further, these individuals may not even have any of these apps installed or use them consistently to be targeted efficiently.


Johnson, S. (2020, April 03). Aging prison demographics. University of North Carolina. Retrieved from
Officer, G. A. (2022, January 13). Our biggest challenge in 2022. Retrieved from CWI Labs.:

Suder, R. (2021, October 19). Should you be honest about your criminal record when applying to jobs? Retrieved from TopResume:

Share this article