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Practices & Centers

Center for Justice & Economic Advancement

Breaking down systemic barriers and creating economic advancement for people with criminal records.
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Every person with a record should have a fair chance to secure a quality job and a better life. 

People with records face persistent barriers to success in education and the workforce because of policies and practices that exclude them from quality jobs matching their skills and aspirations. This leaves 70 million people on the sidelines of the labor market.

Jobs for the Future’s Center for Justice & Economic Advancement partners with employers, education and training providers, corrections agencies, and others to promote education, training, and fair chance hiring for people in corrections facilities and in communities. We work with state and federal policymakers to advocate for policy changes and share best practices so people with records can secure quality jobs.

Key Initiatives

Normalizing Opportunity Policy Agenda

We advocate for state and federal policy solutions that remove barriers and establish conditions that create equitable economic advancement for people with records.

Fair Chance Employment Initiatives

Our Fair Chance Corporate Cohort helps employers tap into a diverse pool of talent and create an inclusive environment so individuals with records thrive in the workplace.

Postsecondary Attainment and Talent Development

Working with education institutions, corrections agencies, and workforce systems, we promote models, practices, and policies that ensure people with records can access high-quality credentials in corrections and in communities.

News & Ideas


Jobs for the Future Launches the Normalizing Education Collective

A Transformative Community of Practice for Postsecondary Education in Prison


A Strong REO Program Helps Build A Strong Workforce

Using our Normalizing Opportunity policy framework as a guide for systemic change, we are developing policy briefs and other strategic resources with recommendations about where change needs to occur and how to create conditions that enable opportunity. We will regularly update this page with new data, insights, and ideas as we expand our ongoing research and collaborate with new partners who share our commitment to normalizing opportunity. Download "A Strong REO Program Helps Build A Strong Workforce" below.


Normalizing Opportunity: A Policy Agenda to Promote Economic Advancement for People With Criminal Records

JFF calls on policymakers to break down barriers to economic opportunity—and establish policies that create equitable economic advancement—for the 70 million people in the United States with criminal records. Our actionable recommendations will expand the talent pool available to fill critical workforce gaps and build a more equitable and just society.

Featured Projects

Fair Chance Corporate Cohort

Designed for organizations looking to build inclusive, competitive, and thriving workforces, this virtual employer training program provides organizational leaders with the knowledge and skills necessary to adopt and implement fair chance hiring practices so that people with records have access to quality jobs.  

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Normalizing Opportunity Advocacy Campaign 

Through original artwork by legendary artist and activist Brandan “BMike” Odums and poetry by acclaimed writer Jazmine Williams, this advocacy campaign showcases the transformational work of iconic justice advocates Susan Burton, John Gargano, and McKinley Mac Phipps which elevates the success that individuals who have been incarcerated can achieve when barriers come down and opportunities expand. 

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Normalizing Education Resource Center 

Seventy percent of individuals who are incarcerated want to earn a postsecondary credential. This digital field guide provides education leaders and corrections professionals access to a free library of resources necessary to create high-quality education programming for students who are incarcerated.  

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When Practice Isn't Enough: Why Fair Chance Hiring Requires Policy Change

To build a truly equitable and antiracist economic recovery, fair chance hiring practices need to be more than just a matter of employer preference. Policy changes, at the state and federal levels, are a critical step in creating opportunities for people with criminal records, and growth for the national economy.


Fair Chance Hiring Even Better With Fair Chance Training

When industry and labor organizations use their collective power to encourage not only hiring people with criminal records but also preparing this population for high-quality jobs, employers and workers both benefit.


A Successful Post-Prison Reentry, With Support at Every Step

One year out of prison, Chicago’s Jackie Helm is happily employed, thanks to a transition program for people with criminal records and employers willing to assess on skills, not stereotypes. Our experts offer five key strategies to ensure people with records get a fair chance.


Lucretia Murphy

Vice President

Lucretia Murphy is vice president of the Center for Justice & Economic Advancement at JFF. She develops integrated strategies that increase economic opportunity for individuals and economic prosperity for communities, with an emphasis on economic…

Brandi Mandato

Senior Director

Brandi Mandato is a senior director in the Center for Justice & Economic Advancement at JFF. She leads the center’s policy and systems change work, championing efforts to normalize opportunity for people with records at…

Rebecca Villarreal

Senior Director

Rebecca Villarreal is a senior director in the Center for Justice & Economic Advancement at JFF. She helps stakeholders advance comprehensive talent development strategies that increase individuals’ economic opportunities and communities’ economic prosperity, with a…

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The Center for Justice & Economic Advancement and our network of expert partners are available to help you learn about fair chance hiring, develop effective models of postsecondary education in prisons, advocate for policies that normalize opportunity, and more. Contact us to learn more about how you can partner with us or support our work, and subscribe for updates.