Mayor Nutter’s plan to offer tax credits to employers who hire former prison inmates is a good idea that he is right not to abandon. But making it work will require more effort. The program launched three years ago has largely been a bust. The city bogged it down with too many restrictions. As a result, the response from potential employers has been an embarrassment.
 
Not a single business applied for any of the $5 million in tax credits available annually. Neither has a single ex-offender been hired under the program. It was hoped that 500 former inmates would be enrolled in the program each year. The idea was to help curb crime by providing ex-convicts with jobs that would hopefully keep them from resuming criminal activity.
 
In exchange for each ex-offender hired, businesses can get tax breaks of $10,000 a year for up to three years on their business-privilege tax. With zero results in three years, Nutter fortunately realizes that the program needs adjustments. Much needed changes are in the works that could breathe new life in the program.
 
City Council should move quickly to lift requirements that may have kept businesses away: Like mandating $5,000 in tuition assistance for every ex-offender hired, or requiring the ex-offenders to give the city 5 percent of their paycheck. Philadelphia needs a viable reentry jobs program to help former prison inmates become successful members of society. Making it easier for businesses to step up to the plate with jobs is a step that needs to be made.