Why System Reset?

Our advisor John Jones III shares his story and explains why hiring returning people is critical to a true Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion commitment.

Take the System Reset Pledge

  • I’m committed to recruiting, hiring, and retaining people returning from incarceration at my workplace. I want to disrupt the racist cycle between incarceration and employment and want tech to set an example for companies across industries.
  • This field is for validation purposes and should be left unchanged.

Use the Guide, Make a Plan

The System Reset Implementation Guide illustrates how systemic racism affects employment and incarceration, which intersect to exclude Black and Brown people from the workplace. 

This guide provides a path for tech companies to disrupt this dynamic and develop a plan for both hiring returning people and developing a supportive and welcoming culture.  

  • Hiring formerly incarcerated people helps reduce economic inequities that impact communities of color in particular, caused in part by mass incarceration. 
  • More inclusive hiring and retention practices bolster anti-racist statements with concrete results.
  • Research suggests that companies that adopt System Reset will also increase the efficiency of their people operations by expanding a limited labor pool, increasing retention, improving innovation and resilience efforts through increased diversity, and potentially benefiting from governmental financial incentives.

It’s one thing to know or to think ‘okay, they got this question on the application, they’re not going to give me a chance.’ But it’s something else to discover that that was actually sanctioned by our society. Why are we upholding things that really preclude a person like me from having an opportunity?

John Jones III, previously Director of Community and Political Engagement at Just Cities

Why are we using the term ‘Returning People’?

The System Reset Guide uses people-first language to align with the goals and leadership of activists within the movement. Throughout the guide we use the term ‘returning people’ to discuss those impacted by the carceral system. In some areas we use the terms ‘people with conviction histories’ or ‘previously incarcerated people’ to provide specificity about a specific statistic or experience. We know that no term is perfect or agreed upon by all leaders and activists working within this movement. Our language is intentional and guided by the steps below, as provided in an Open Letter written by Eddie Ellis, the Founder of The Center for NuLeadership on Urban Solutions.

  • Be conscious of the language you use. Remember that each time you speak, you convey powerful words, pictures, and images. 
  • Stop using the terms offender, felon, prisoner, inmate, and convict.
  • Substitute the word PEOPLE for these other negative terms.
  • Encourage your friends, family, and colleagues to use positive language in their speech, writing, publications, and electronic communications. 

In addition, we are grateful to those who have advised and helped to shape language within the System Reset Guide; including Bill Murphy at Slack, Root & Rebound, and the readings and resources available through The Marshall Project and Underground Scholars at Berkeley


Download the Full Report

About System Reset

System Reset began as a conversation between tech companies and community organizations, who were eager to find ways for returning people to benefit from the massive growth and opportunities created by the tech industry.

This project wouldn’t be where it is today without our phenomenal advisors.

Our Advisors


Britannia Bloom


John Jones III


Shelley Winner


Jay Jordan, Vice President, Alliance for Safety and Justice


Kate Weaver Patterson, Deputy Director of National Programs, Root & Rebound


Rashida Harmon, Bay Area Regional Director of Advocacy, Root & Rebound


Chloe Noonan, Associate Director of Legal Education, Root & Rebound


Zachariah J. Oquenda, Policy & Public Education Attorney, Root & Rebound


William Murphy, Software Engineer


Orrian Willis, TechSF Manager, Office of Economic and Workforce Development, San Francisco


Kristi Oloffson


Scott Mauvais