Pass Fair Chance Hiring Policy for public and private employment in Waco
The United States incarcerates its citizens at a staggering rate. Though Americans make up only 5 percent of the world's population, nearly a quarter of the world's prisoners are housed in the United States. The high incarceration rate means that today, approximately 70 million people in the United States have some form of criminal record; 12 million of those are in Texas.
A criminal record has severe consequences for those who are attempting to reintegrate back into society. One's ability to find housing, attain financial aid, and receive public benefits are all impacted by a criminal record. The ramifications are particularly dire for employment chances. According to the EEOC, 92% of surveyed employers use criminal background checks on potential candidates. Employers use these as a means to weed out otherwise employable prospects, which discourages ex-offenders from applying at all. In fact, a criminal record reduces chances of employment by 15-30%. Inability to attain employment leaves ex-offenders with few options other than returning to a life of crime. Many are forced into homelessness.
Because of this, we ask the City of Waco and McLennan County to adopt a Fair Chance Hiring Policy that would include all public and private employment in Waco. Specifically, this policy would entail:
- The delay of criminal history inquiries until after a conditional offer of employment.
- Employer use of individualized assessments to determine an ex-offender's qualifications for employment, consistent with business necessity. This assessment would examine three things, based on EEOC guidelines: the nature and gravity of the offense, the time that has passed since the offense or conduct, and the nature of the job sought.
- Written notice to the applicant if he or she is denied employment because of criminal history. This notice should describe the specific factor of the background check that provided the cause for rejection.
- Sufficient time for the applicant to respond with evidence of rehabilitation (letters of recommendation, certificates, etc.)
Everyone wins with a fair chance hiring policy. The public benefits from the reduction in crime and through saved taxes, businesses benefit from the expanded applicant pool and the return in community revenue, and the ex-offender (returning citizen) benefits from the provision and dignity that comes with stable employment.
Support our effort to give everyone in Waco a fair chance.
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