Ex-Offenders and Employment

‘Ban the Box’ laws may be harming young black men seeking jobs, By Rebecca Beitsch, August 22, 2017, Stateline: “‘Ban the box’ laws, which bar employers from asking job applicants whether they have a criminal record, may be harming some of the people they are intended to help.  Twenty-nine states prevent state and sometimes city and county employers from including a criminal history box on job applications. Nine states have extended the ban to private employers as well…”

Ex-Offenders and Employment

Matching ex-offenders with hard-to-fill health care jobs, By Sophie Quinton, April 19, 2017, Stateline: “Collie Thomas sat in the courtyard outside the Johns Hopkins Hospital and marveled at her luck. She works as an orderly in one of the most prestigious hospitals in the country. She was promoted about a year ago. She just moved into a snug new row house. ‘I stayed 10 years in prison, and I worked hard in prison for like a dollar, dollar fifty — for so little,’ said Thomas, 51, her bedazzled pink smartphone glinting in the April sunshine. ‘So when you get these kinds of jobs here, you work your best.’  With unemployment falling and workers hard to find, a growing number of health care employers are following Johns Hopkins’ lead and giving people with criminal records a second chance — hiring them mainly into entry-level jobs in food service, janitorial services and housekeeping. Studies show that employees with records stay in their jobs longer and are no more likely to commit workplace crimes than hires without them…”

Prisoner Re-entry – Colorado

Homelessness, criminal histories create barriers for those seeking to re-enter Colorado society, By Amelia Arvesen, April 15, 2017, Denver Post: “On paper, Glenn Allan Tefft was sure he qualified for an open position at a Longmont, Colorado, printing plant even with his criminal background. But his spirits were low after he believed he was judged on his appearance during what he thought was a suspiciously brief interview. ‘People won’t even look at you,’ he said a week before the opportunity arose. ‘You can tell I’m homeless.’ Almost 39, a three-time felon who’s been to jail but not prison, Tefft is struggling to defy the odds also faced by 95 percent of the prison population that the Congressional Research Service expects will reintegrate back into the greater community at some point…”

Ex-Offenders and Occupational Licenses

To help ex-offenders get jobs, some states reconsider licenses, By Sophie Quinton, March 8, 2017, Stateline: “Robert Lewis didn’t think it would be hard to get a job selling insurance. He was a car salesman for decades and sold insurance for a while after graduating from college. But in Lewis’ home state of Illinois, felons can’t get a license to sell insurance. And in 1985, Lewis was arrested for felony theft.  Lewis says he long ago kicked the drug habit that contributed to his arrest, and these days the 62-year-old can often be found running around after his grandkids.  ‘I was a whole other person back then,’ Lewis said of his Reagan-era brush with the law. But the criminal record derailed his recent job application…”

Ex-Felons and Housing

‘Invisible punishment’ hits ex-felons for life; DOJ, HUD fight blanket rental bias, By Joe Davidson, October 27, 2016, Washington Post: “There’s been a lot of bipartisan talk lately about criminal justice reform. But action is slow.  Too slow for Pedro Collazo, dangling in a web of collateral consequences.  He did 12 years in New York’s Sing Sing prison on manslaughter charges after a beef went bad at a bar where he was a bouncer. He was 22. He has been home nine months and has a good job that allows him to care for his 16-year-old son and 12-year-old daughter.  But “home” is an elusive concept for Collazo, who sleeps on a relative’s couch…”

Housing Discrimination

Denying housing over criminal record may be discrimination, feds say, By Camila Domonoske, April 4, 2016, National Public Radio: “The Department of Housing and Urban Development is making it easier for people with criminal records to find housing.  In new guidance, released Monday, HUD tells landlords and home sellers that turning down tenants or buyers based on their criminal records may violate the Fair Housing Act. People with criminal records aren’t a protected class under the Fair Housing Act, and the guidance from HUD’s general counsel says that in some cases, turning down an individual tenant because of his or her record can be legally justified.  But blanket policies of refusing to rent to anybody with a criminal record are de facto discrimination, the department says — because of the systemic disparities of the American criminal justice system…”

State Voting Restrictions for Felons

States rethink laws denying the vote to felons, By Rebecca Beitsch, July 16, 2015, Stateline: “When Republican Gov. Larry Hogan vetoed a Maryland bill that expanded voting rights, he angered a group of people who were never able to vote for him in the first place: felons still serving prison time, probation or parole. Maryland — like every state but Maine and Vermont — restricts the voting rights of felons. Some states bar felony inmates from voting, others extend the prohibition to offenders who are on parole or probation. Several states withhold voting rights from people who have been out of the criminal justice system for years.  More states are considering restoring the right to vote to felons, with supporters saying that once their debt to society is paid they should be allowed to exercise a fundamental right. This year, 18 states considered legislation to ease voting restrictions on felons; Wyoming was the only state to pass such a bill. That’s up from 13 states that considered bills last year, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures…”

Ex-Offenders and Employment

Out of prison, out of work: Ex-inmates face struggles after release, By Rick Barrett, March 29, 2015, Milwaukee Journal Sentinel: “Finding a job is hard enough these days, but finding one when you have a criminal record can be all but impossible.  James Daniels knows. After spending nearly three years in prison for a drug crime — possession of marijuana with intent to deliver — he was released March 31, 2012, only to learn that some potential employers couldn’t see past the felony…”

Ex-Offenders and Employment

Our criminal justice system is making it really hard for people to find jobs, By Jonathan Blanks, September 30, 2014, Washington Post: “Although the American economy has rebounded from the Great Recession, many people still struggle to find jobs. Politicians blame taxation, trade policies and automation. Some have even singled out the current welfare system. Often overlooked? The many punitive effects of the criminal justice system. Nearly 65 million Americans have a criminal record. This black mark carries with it potentially mandatory restrictions on jobs, housing, education and public assistance. As detailed in a National Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers study, the federal government and every state imposes some sort of ‘collateral consequence’ to arrests or convictions…”

Alice Goffman’s “On the Run”

Financial Hazards of a Fugitive Life, By Tyler Cowen, June 1, 2014, New York Times: ” ‘Capital in the Twenty-First Century,’ Thomas Piketty’s new book, has received a great deal of attention. But we shouldn’t neglect another important new book on income inequality, from a much different perspective. Titled “On the Run: Fugitive Life in an American City,” and written by Alice Goffman, a sociologist at the University of Wisconsin, Madison, it offers a fascinating and disturbing portrait of the economic constraints and incentives faced by a large subset of Americans: those who are hiding from the law. You may think of being on the run as a quandary for only a small group of recalcitrant, hardened criminals. But in her study of one Philadelphia neighborhood, Professor Goffman shows that it is a common way of life for many nonviolent Americans. . .”

‘Ban the Box’ Legislation

States, cities ‘ban the box’ in hiring, By Jeffrey Stinson, May 22, 2014, Pew Stateline: “When Dwyane Jordan got busted four years ago on felony drug-peddling charges, he was thankful to get probation and addiction treatment rather than prison time. What he didn’t bargain for was the haunting effect that being branded a felon would have on his ability to lawfully earn a living—a burden he shares with roughly 70 million U.S. adults who have criminal records. “It reminds me of ‘The Scarlet Letter,’” said Jordan, 43, of Washington, D.C. Jordan’s criminal past comes up nearly every time he applies for a job. . .”