Looking for some help? Sometimes the best hire is a somewhat controversial one.

That's the message to come out of a downtown forum today on hiring former offenders, men and women who have been to prison and served their time.

"You're going to get a hard-working individual, you're going to get someone who is really striving to do better," said Chrisfino Leal, who was behind bars in San Quentin.

Leal now works at RocketSpace, a tech campus that connects Bay Area start-ups.

"They are less likely to re-offend. They have stable income, they're not out there looking for money," said Michelle Kane, a spokeswoman for the California Prison Industry Authority. 

The authority  trains 8,000 prisoners each year.

She says some businesses take convincing, and that’s why they want to get the message out about tax credits and other incentives.