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How Second-Chance Hiring Works


- Stephanie Scearce, GAM Director of Workforce Development

 “Second-chance employment. I want you to look at it as more than a company liability. Look at it as an individual that has paid their debt to society […] and at least begun the process of restoration that find themselves at your doorstep saying, ‘Please give me a second chance at life.’ What happens if you say ‘yes.’ For one, you get an employee. But on a deeper, more spiritual level, you help that person restore themselves, their lives, their families, [and] ultimately the community […]. Two, if you believe in a person at their lowest […], what you will get in an employee are two things: grateful and loyal.”

- Shane Sims, at the GAM Workforce / Plant Management Seminar


The Society of Human Resource Management (SHRM) defines second-chance hiring as “the practice of giving individuals with criminal records a fair and equal opportunity at employment” (Society for Human Resources Management, 2023)

Why are we talking about this? Allow me to provide a little background for context:

As of July 2023, the Georgia Department of Corrections (GDC) housed almost 50,000 inmates, making it the fourth state in America with the highest prison population (Georgia Department of Corrections, 2023). Combining the federal prison and local jail populations, Georgia is incarcerating approximately 95,000 of its population (Prison Policy Initiative, 2023). All told, around 451,000 individuals are involved in Georgia’s criminal legal system (Prison Policy Initiative, 2023); people who will have a much greater challenge finding gainful employment because of their criminal record.

With over 640,000 annual occupational openings each year in Georgia (Georgia Department of Labor, 2023) and an unemployment rate of 3.5 percent (Georgia Department of Labor, 2023), there are not enough people to fill existing jobs. Left unchecked, Georgia may run the risk of losing long-time legacy employers.

That’s why we’re talking about this.

Georgia businesses, especially manufacturers, must be willing to consider second-chance as an untapped population to counter their critical and immediate workforce challenges.

Apart from the harsh statistics provided above, a job provides not only an important source of livelihood, but also purpose. Father Greg Boyle, founder of the Los Angeles non-profit Homeboy Industries, famously shares his organization’s slogan when discussing second-chance hiring: “Nothing stops a bullet like a job.” Career opportunities provide not only basic survival, but also a sense of belonging in the community for those reintegrating into society after incarceration, and the self-esteem necessary to see that reintegration through.

This rang true at GAM’s Workforce Seminar during Shane Sim’s session about second-chance hiring. Shane shared with us his story of addiction, felony conviction, and 20 years of incarceration and how he was afforded a fresh start by a manufacturer willing to give him a second opportunity.

Second-chance hiring is a movement the Association sees as an important resource for offsetting Georgia manufacturers' current and future workforce challenges. Not only that, second-chance hiring is a therapeutic and sustainable mechanism for combatting recidivism and reintegrating individuals into society. However, as SHRM describes, second-chance hiring is a practice that involves careful and intentional measures for facilitating a positive experience for all parties involved.

Click here to listen to Shane’s entire speech and conversation with GAM President Lloyd Avram about insights for implementing these hiring practices at your organization. If this topic interests you, contact us to learn more about GAM’s initiatives for helping its members implement second-chance hiring practices.



Georgia Department of Corrections. (2023). Inmate Statistical Profile. Atlanta: Georgia Department of Corrections.

Georgia Department of Labor. (2023). Local Area Unemployment Statistics (LAUS). Atlanta: Georgia Department of Labor.

Georgia Department of Labor. (2023). SHORT-TERM OCCUPATIONAL PROJECTIONS. Atlanta: Georgia Department of Labor.

Prison Policy Initiative. (2023, July 31). Georgia Profile. Retrieved from Prison Policy Initiative:

Society for Human Resources Management. (2023, July 31). Second-Chance Hiring. Retrieved from Society for Human Resources Management:

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