Those who work for a welfare office, a workforce development organization, or are involved in getting recipients of Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) into the workforce know the challenge of finding employment for ex-offenders or individuals with a criminal record.
With all the different populations receiving welfare benefits who require special services to achieve self-sufficiency, why should you pay extra attention to assisting individuals with criminal records move from welfare to work? There are a number of very good reasons for doing so.
A. A growing number of people have arrest and conviction records and arereturning to the community.The number of individuals in the criminal justice system in the United States continues to grow each year. The Department of Justice estimates that in 1999 a record number of people - more than six million were under criminal justice supervision: 1.85 million incarcerated in state and federal prisons and local jails; 3.8 million on probation; and 700,000 on parole. Of those incarcerated, most will be released. The latest available figures indicate that in 1999, more than 500,000 offenders were released from state and federal prisons and returned to communities.
The number of people who have a record of arrest or conviction is much larger,though. Over 47 million Americans - and probably many more have a criminal history on file with state or federal governments. That means that about 25 percent of the nation's adult population live a substantial portion of their lives having a criminal record.
We are proposing a reasonable modification wait time from 7 to 10 years to 1-2 years and no wait time depending on the crime of the individual. Our passion stems from being ex-offenders ourselves. Together my wife and I have the earning capacity of 235 thousand a year. We both have attempted to obtain gainful employment over the past three years only to here we don't hire felons. I personally interviewed 266 times with 45 % of those interviews offering me employment after a rigorous interview process. Once I disclosed my convictions that ended my hope because of the legislation in-place of 7 to 10 years waiting periods no matter how pristine your skill set was that got you past the competition. Because of this stigma we have been catapulted into a level of living that is boarder line poverty and we work with others who are just as destitute and rapidly declining in hope and health."I stood for second chances before there were second chances," Here are five reasons we believe this petition needs immediate attention.
Their work ethic, is bar none and provides a great example to all employees of how hard they should be working."These people give 120 percent every day," "They appreciate the chance to have a job."They have great transferable skills, which usually translate very effectively in the workplace."If you take the skills that got them into trouble in the first place, and use them for a legitimate business venture, everyone wins," "I have seen scores of people with transferable skills put these skills to work in the business world." Ex-offenders, have turnover rates that are lower than the general population. They know this is their last chance,which provides them extra motivation to keep their job."They try harder to and take their job very seriously".It is the right thing to do for local communities.Business, big and small, can play a huge role in hiring ex-offenders."Imagine what would happen to our recidivism rates, gang participation rates, crime rates and drug abuse rates if every business in the US opened their doors and their hearts to hire just one ex offender," "We would change our communities for the better forever."5.Hiring an ex-offender gives small business owners the chance to do something great and impactful, I quote Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. in saying "everyone can be great because everyone can serve.""It is no longer smart to wait for politicians to fix all the problems in our society," "Big and small businesses have a great role in doing their part."
Individuals with criminal records face multiple barriers to employment. Ex-offenders face many barriers to getting a job, including substance abuse problems,spotty work histories, poor educational backgrounds, physical and mental health problems, and bias against them. Any one of these barriers can impede an ex-offender's ability to become employed, and taken together, they create formidable obstacles to getting, maintaining, and advancing on a job.
States must address the needs of this population to comply with the workrequirements and time limits mandated in welfare laws.Under the Personal Responsibility and Work Opportunity Reconciliation Act of 1996(PRWORA), states are required to establish lifetime limits for the receipt of public assistance and enforce work requirements on welfare recipients. By learning how to better serve ex-offenders, states may be able to more easily comply with TANF requirements and avoid TANF penalties.
Obtaining employment can reduce the likelihood of an ex-offender beingrearrested, re-convicted, and re-incarcerated. Helping ex-offenders get jobs will significantly decrease the likelihood that they will commit other crimes. Most experts, academics, and practitioners, as well as people with criminal records themselves, believe that obtaining employment is absolutely crucial to successful re-integration of offenders and to the promotion of public safetythrough a reduction in crime.
Please review a bill that we have put in Congressman Mark Takano's hands more than twice to see if he would support this vital piece of legislation to assist President Obama in reform of ex-offenders rights as human beings.
Bill Proposal: Advocates against Felon Employment Discrimination Act
SENATE OR HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES OF THE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA
Introduced by: Advocates against Felon Employment Discrimination
Primary Sponsor: Maymie Chandler-Pratt
Secondary Sponsor: Aaron D. Pratt
1. The purpose of this bill is to stop the employment discrimination of ex-offenders throughout the United States and to modify the hiring wait times from 7 to 10 years, to a more reasonable wait time of 1 to 2 years or less depending on the crime committed.
2. The (Senate or House of Representatives) of the United States of America hereby enacts as follows:
3. SECTION 1
4. This act shall be known as the Advocates against Felon Employment Discrimination Act
5. SECTION 2
6. Reinstate ex-offenders their right to work, and modify the hiring requirements in
7. companies from the unrealistic term of 7 to 10 years to 1 to 2 years for ex-offenders who are
8. willing and able to earn an honest living wage and are skilled in those areas of work.
9. SECTION 3
10. Require companies to hire people with felonies after a period of 1 to 2 years after said
11. person has completed parole and has successfully complied with terms of release presented
12. by the parole board; (Drug Rehabilitation, boarding house residency, random drug testing) 13. and have demonstrated a desire to work by enrolling in classes to improve their work skills
14. and their moral turpitude.
15. SECTION 4:
16. Require companies to at least have bonding agents and resources within the HR department
17. which will allow companies to be compensated with tax write offs as an incentive to hire ex-
19. SECTION 5: Funding
20. The cost of the implications of this proposal should not exceed the amount of $1,000,000.00
22. Funding for this bill will come partly from the Advocates against Felon Employment
23. Discrimination Act fundraising committee and participating government programs.
24. SECTION 6: Regulations
25. The EEOC has historically taken the position that an employer’s policy or practice of
26. excluding individuals from employment because they have criminal conviction record is
27. unlawful under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 unless the policy or practice is
28. justified by a business necessity. If the information was erroneous or the conviction was not
29. job-related, employees and applicants have a right to file a discrimination claim with their
30.state equal employment opportunity agency. The government will impose sanctions on
31.companies which are offering employment that have no direct correlation with the crime that
32.was committed by person’s applying for a job if they don’t hire a person with a felony on
33.their background that is older than 1 to 2 years. For most offenders it is difficult to prove that
34.a possible employer illegally discriminated 35.against them even with an expungement. In
35.California an individual’s criminal history is 36.never erased, but rather erases the word
36. “conviction” and replaces it with “dismissed in 37.Furtherance of Justice” in the disposition.
37. Constitutional issues:
38. The Fourteenth Amendment to the United States Constitution explicitly permits felon
39. disenfranchisement, but it has been pointed out that constitutional approval of felons’
40.political powerlessness is not the same as constitutional approval of government prejudice
41.toward the politically powerless. Such prejudice may violate the Equal Protection Clause,
42.which contains no provision authorizing discrimination against felons. A “discrete and
43.insular” minority subject to prejudice, in particular, may be considered particularly vulnerable
44.to oppression by the majority, and thus a suspect class worthy of protection by the judiciary.
45. SECTION 7: Penalties
46. The penalties for not hiring a person with felonies older than 2 to 5 years on their background
47. and who are willing to work and are skilled in that field or position will be a fine of $5000.00
48. dollars and or if the information was erroneous or the conviction was not job-related,
49. employees and applicants information was erroneous or the conviction was not job-related,
50. employees and applicants have a right to file a discrimination claim with their state equal
51. employment opportunity agency. If a felon is bonded by a company and hired on, and is later
52. found to not be in compliance with the bonding agreement he/she shall be terminated.
53. SECTION 8: Definitions
54. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission:
55. The U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) is a federal law
56. enforcement agency that enforces laws against job discrimination. The EEOC investigates
57. discrimination complaints based on an individual’s race, color, national origin, religion, sex,
57. age, disability, genetic information and retaliation for reporting, participating in and/or
58. opposing a discriminatory practice. The EEOC also mediates and settles thousands of
59. discrimination complaints each year prior to their investigation. The EEOC is also
60. empowered to file discrimination suits against employers on behalf of alleged victims and to
61. adjudicate claims of discrimination brought against federal agencies.
62. Moral turpitude: A legal concept in the United States that refers to conduct that is
63. considered contrary to the community’s standard of justice, honesty and good morals. As of
64. 1998, seven states absolutely barred felons from public employment. Other states had more
65. narrow restrictions for instance, only covering infamous crimes or felonies involving moral
67. Over inclusive: relating to legislation that burdens more people than necessary to accomplish
68. the legislation’s goal. Some laws have been criticized for being over inclusive; for instance, a
69. law banning all ex-offenders from working in health care jobs could prevent a person
70. convicted of bribery or shoplifting from sweeping the halls of a hospital. The law in Texas
71. requires that employers consider things like the nature and seriousness of the crime, the
72. amount of time since the person’s committed the crime, and letters of recommendation all be
73. taken into account even when the applicant has a felony.
74. SECTION 9: Effective Date
75. This bill shall take effect approximately and at a minimum of 1 year after passage before the
76. law is implemented.
This bill is not asking that the hiring requirements be abolished totally, but that they are modified from the unrealistic 7 to 10 year wait in order to be eligible for “legal” employment, to a more realistic waiting time requirement of 1 to 2 years or less depending on the crime committed.
Aaron and Maymie Chandler-Pratt
Second Chance Alliance Re-entry Program Founders (Revised September, 2015)