Justice-Involved Individuals

At OhioMeansJobs Knox County, we have a comprehensive re-entry job readiness program with dedicated staff to assist and provide support to this population of job seekers as they transition into the workforce.  We provide employment services and assist these job seekers in accessing the resources they need to be successful.  We have staff who serve on the local ARMOR Court treatment team, the local MERIT court treatment team, and on the KSAAT (Knox Substance Abuse Action Team) board. We also work closely with the local probation and parole departments.

In recent times, with the shortage of workers, many employers have reconsidered a former approach to hiring this population of job seekers. This shift in hiring practices has reaped rewards for many employers as they have gained good quality workers who are grateful for a second chance and eager to maintain permanent employment to support their families.

The Non-Traditional Workforce committee of WorkDev has pulled together the information and resources below to assist employers in navigating this concept.

Employer Benefits

  • Connection to a source of permanent employees
  • Available tax credits for your business
  • Certain protections available through Federal Bonding and/or CQE (see below for more information on these programs)
  • Contribution to the success of the Restored Citizen individuals and the less likelihood of recidivism

 New Employee Benefits

  • Full time employment, which will help reduce the likelihood of recidivism
  • Stability, which will allow the Restored Citizen individual an opportunity to change their life path and make better choices
  • Opportunity to grow with a local business and improve their skillset

Benefits and Resources

Federal Bonding is a program established by the U.S. Department of Labor to provide Fidelity Bonds for hard-to-place job seekers. These bonds cover the first six months of employment at no cost to the employer nor the applicant. This unique program incentivizes employers to hire individuals whose backgrounds can pose significant barriers to securing or retaining employment by offering financial protection in the event the individual causes a monetary loss to the employer.


This program is not limited to those with a criminal record. Populations potentially eligible for this program include justice-involved citizens, individuals in recovery from substance use disorders, welfare recipients, individuals with poor credit records, economically disadvantaged youth and adults who lack work histories, and individuals dishonorably discharged from the military.


Each bond has a $5,000 limit with a $0 deductible. Bonds can be applied to:

  •  Any job
  • Any full time or part time employee with paid wages (with federal taxes automatically deducted)
  • Any employee dishonesty committed on or away from the worksite.

Advantages of this program include:

  • No application for job seekers to complete
  • No paperwork for employers to sign or submit
  • No formal bond approval process
  • No federal regulations applicable to bonds issued
  • No follow up or required termination actions
  • No deductible paid if a bond claim is filed by the employer
  • No age requirement (other than legal working age)
Individuals (Job Seekers) must acquire the bond by contacting the state Bonding Coordinator who services their area of residence. For more information about this program click HERE to visit the Federal Bond website.

The Certificate of Qualification for Employment (CQE) is part of an Ohio law that helps people with criminal records obtain employment. A CQE holder has voluntarily gone through a rigorous review process by Ohio rehabilitation officials, a judge, and a probation department. Indviduals petitioning the court for the CQE must complete a 15-page petition, including prior convictions, prior employment, rehabilitation rationale, and professional and personal references. CQE petitions are thoroughly reviewed by staff at the Ohio Department of Rehabilitation and Correction and Court of Common Pleas, with input from prosecutors and multiple judges.The decision to issue a CQE is determined by the Court of Common Pleas in the county where the petitioner currently resides.


How a CQE benefits employers:

  • A CQE provides immunity to employers for negligent hiring claims – indicates employer has done full due diligence in the hiring process.
  • Employer is eligible for the Ohio Work Opportunity Tax Credit.
  • CQEs allow employers or licensing agencies discretion to individually assess an applicant’s suitability to hire.

To learn more about CQE click HERE to visit the Ohio Department of Rehabilitation and Correction website.

The Work Opportunity Tax Credit (WOTC) is a Federal tax credit available to employers for hiring and employing individuals from certain target groups, who have significant barriers to employment. The WOTC credit is a general business credit provided under section 51 of the Internal Revenue Code that is administered by the IRS and the Department of Labor. The WOTC is equal to 40% of up to $6,000 of wages paid to the individual. The maximum tax credit is generally $2,400.

Justice-involved indiviuals may meet the qualifications for a hiring tax credit if the individual is hired within a year of being convicted of a felony or being released from incarceration for the felony. Applying for the tax credit is easy, but it is important to remember:

  • On or before the day that an offer of employment is made, you and the job applicant must complete the pre-screening notice and certification request for the Work Opportuntiy Tax Credit (IRS form 8850).
  • You must submit the completed form to the Ohio Department of Job and Family Services within 28 days of the individual’s first date of employment with your company.

To learn more about WOTC, click HERE to visit the IRS website or to request access to the oline application click HERE to visit the Ohio Department of Job and Family Services WOTC page.

Individuals from this talent source may initially have some other specific needs to help them be successful at your company. Some things to consider when planning to tap into this population include:

  • Individuals may need sporadic time off work to attend probation or parole appointments.
  • Individuals who are involved in Peer Support Programs have better long-term outcomes. This is a fairly new concept, but many employers are implementing such programs within their company. These programs procide necessary support for the individual’s success.
  • Individuals in this population may be more successful with a job coach.


Use the hyperlinks below to view helpful resources from business models that have proved successful in other areas:


Dave’s Killer Bread Foundation

Dave’s Killer Bread Foundation Playbook

New Hampshire Recovery Friendly Workplace

Hot Chicken Takeover 

Fairshake Reentry Resource Center

Ohio Reentry Coalitions


Local resources include:


OhioMeansJobs Knox County. We provide job skills and soft skills training as well as job coaching and support to justice-involved individuals.    CONTACT US today to connect with an Employment Services Specialist.


TouchePointe Marriage and Family Resources is a local organization that offers mentorships and job coaching support to justice-involved individuals. Click HERE to visit them on the web.



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