Excerpted from a My Journal Courier editorial by Arthur Rizer and Rachel Liebman

It’s time to address one of the most common collateral consequences following individuals with criminal history records. Long after they have served their prison sentences, any sentence for criminal activity will, for many, ultimately become a life sentence of under- or unemployment.

That destructive cycle needs to change, and businesses have a big role to play.

Many of these consequences are explicit and statutory, such as the laws and other regulations that formally bar people with criminal records from entering many segments of the workforce. Other effects are more subtle but widespread, such as the millions of resumes tossed into garbage cans when an applicant’s past criminal history is revealed through self-reporting or background checks.

We cannot afford to toss aside this vast human potential. Today, nearly one-third of Americans have some type of criminal record. Roughly 95 percent of those currently incarcerated will eventually be released. Put another way, nearly 2.2 million of the 2.3 million Americans currently behind bars will be released at some point. These millions of former inmates will hit the streets of a country that has, for the most part, locked them out of economic opportunities, consigning many to a cycle of homelessness, crime and poverty.

You can read the full editorial here.