By Pat Loeb

PHILADELPHIA (CBS) — Philadelphia officials are urging employers to take advantage of a pilot program that will pay them to hire ex-offenders.

The program, “Fair Chance,” will reimburse employers, $5 for every hour they employ an ex-offender. The employers must agree to pay $12.10 an hour and give the employee at least 21 hours of work. City officials previously tried a tax credit, but Deputy Commerce Director Duane Bumb says this will be easier.

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“Rather than relying on a delayed return on investment,” Bumb said, “participants will see a quick return in the form of a grant disbursed by the Commerce Department.”

Mayor Jim Kenney put half-a-million dollars in the city budget for the pilot. Now he wants employers to get on board.

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“You complain about how much money we spend on misery, on prisons and prosecutions, and parole and probation and drug rehab,” the mayor said. “If you want to change that narrative, if you really want to make a difference give that person a chance.”

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Some 80,000 Philadelphians are in jail or on parole. Kenney says a job is the key to keeping them from becoming repeat offenders.

The non-profit RISE will help employers find a suitable candidate. Director Cecily Bradford Jones promises it’s as good for the employer as for the returnee.

“Believe me when I tell you these folks really want to be rooted in a company, they want to be loyal to someone,” Bradford said. “They want to give you the talents and abilities that they have in order to make a difference.”

The application is on the Department of Commerce website.

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