Earlier this month, I attended a professional background screeners conference and had the privilege of listening to a great keynote speaker, Damon West.  Damon West’s story is indeed an inspiring example of how second chance hires can work out, demonstrating the power of redemption and resilience. Damon’s journey from a life of addiction and crime to a successful motivational speaker, college professor, author and philanthropist is a testament to the human capacity for change and growth.

Damon West was a talented college quarterback who seemed to have a promising future ahead of him. However, his life took a tragic turn when he sustained a career-ending injury, became addicted to drugs and began engaging in criminal activities. He ended up being sentenced to 65 years in prison for his involvement in various crimes, including burglary and drug-related offenses.

While serving his sentence in a Texas prison, Damon West’s transformation began, and because of the positive impact he had on fellow inmates as well as his own example, he was granted parole after seven years.  Damon not only turned his life around, he continues to “pay it forward,” using his remarkable journey as an inspiration to so many (which is why Fortune 500 companies and the U.S. military have engaged him as a motivational speaker).

Although background checks help companies mitigate risk, it is important to remember that not all convicted felons are the same.  When criminals complete their prison term, they have theoretically paid their debt to society.  While it is important to evaluate past behavior with whatever position a person is applying for, the possibility for second chances should not be ignored.

One way to mitigate risk when hiring an individual with a criminal record is to first evaluate the severity of the crime, the length of time that has transpired since the crime was committed, the person’s behavior since the crime occurred, and also the type of position that the individual is seeking.  If the former criminal meets the requirements for your position, your organization can further protect itself by implementing Continuous Criminal Monitoring.

In March of this year, I wrote about Continuous Criminal Monitoring as a way to increase the job applicant pool.  The story of Damon West is further proof that second chance hires can work out.  For more information about Continuous Criminal Monitoring , contact a reliable background screening company.

Posted by: Rudy Troisi, L.P.I., President and CEO, Reliable Background Screening

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