"In states and localities where there has been an evaluation of Ban the Box programs, we see that there is about a 40% increase in people with records getting hired as a result of simply postponing an inquiry about their record," added Judy Conti, who is the federal advocacy coordinator at the National Employment Law Project.
"If you haven't met me, you haven't had a chance to talk to me and get to know who I am," said Dennis Avila, one of the former prisoners who shared his story.
"I have convictions that involve drugs and firearms … If you just look at some of the worst things that I have done, you would just think that I was this crazy person, which isn't true at all ...coming out of prison and trying to get a job to sustain me and my family was really really hard."
Avila had a son when he was convicted, and he was not alone in that fact. There are 2.7 million children in the U.S. with a parent in prison, according to Prison Fellowship.
Avila eventually went on to found his own nonprofit organization that uses music to positively impact people from challenging backgrounds and circumstances.
"We are proud that today a full 25% of our field staff are people who were once caught up in the cycle of crime and incarceration, but today are now part of the cycle of renewal," shared the CEO of Christian Prison Fellowship, who spoke of the importance of engaging prisoners in "a dignified manner and help them to become healthier and more productive citizens."
Prison Fellowship is currently active in 428 prisons across the country. According to their website, the ministry is "founded on the conviction that all people are created in God's image and that no life is beyond God's reach. As Christians, we believe that Jesus - Himself brought to trial, executed, buried, and brought to life again - offers hope, healing, and a new purpose for each life. He can make even the most broken people and situations whole again."
The fellowship was founded in 1976 by Charles Colson in 1976 after he served seven months prison for his involvement in Watergate as a former aid to President Richard Nixon.
Colson rediscovered his faith during his time in prison. In a book entitled "Loving God: The Cost of Being a Christian," Colson wrote the following about founding a prison ministry that has impacted the lives of thousands of people:
"My life of success was not what made this morning so glorious -- all my achievements meant nothing in God's economy. No, the real legacy of my life was my biggest failure -- that I was an ex-convict. My greatest humiliation -- being sent to prison -- was the beginning of God's greatest use of my life; He chose the one thing in which I could not glory for His glory."