Convicted felons continue to be stigmatized by their criminal past, particularly when they search for legitimate work. But employers are facing a growing, nationwide pressure to change their anti-felon hiring policies.
Upon reentry, finding and maintaining employment becomes the main factor that determines an inmate’s success or recidivism. The “ban the box” movement seeks to abolish the yes or no question about felony conviction on standard job applications, according to a recent article.
Intimate partner violence accounts for 15 percent of all violent crime. One in three women and one in four men in the United States has experienced some form of physical violence by an intimate partner. Husbands are five times more likely to kill wives than vice versa. A third of female homicide victims are killed by an intimate male partner or ex-partner, according to FBI reports. http://www.bjs.gov/content/pub/pdf/ndv0312.pdf
“Any sentence for criminal activity will, for many, ultimately become a life sentence of under- or unemployment,” wrote Arthur Rizer and Rachel Liebman in an article on the issue. “That destructive cycle needs to change, and businesses have a big role to play.”
Nearly one-third of Americans have criminal red flags on their jackets; and 95 percent of the 2.3 million people currently incarcerated will eventually be released into society.
“We cannot afford to toss aside this vast human potential.…These millions of former inmates will hit the streets of a country that has, for the most part, locked them out of economic opportunities, consigning many to a cycle of homelessness, crime and poverty,” according to the article.
“In a strong economy, there should be room for everyone who wants to and can contribute work and talent”
Almost 60 percent of formerly incarcerated individuals are unemployed a year after their release, while those who do sustain employment are paid on average 40 percent less than persons without any criminal record.
Because one-third of all U.S. jobs require some type of professional license or certification, routine background checks prevent ex-offenders from being qualified for such work—even when the job does not entail any public safety considerations.
“But there is hope for a better path,” according to the article. “…Twenty-nine states and 150 jurisdictions have implemented ban-the-box policies that delay employers—in most cases, just public employers—from asking about criminal convictions until a conditional offer of employment has been extended.”
“Too many employers still rely on discriminatory biometric information, like fingerprints and name-based background checks,” the authors wrote. Such methods fail to take into account inaccurate, outdated or incomplete data, any mitigating factors surrounding the offense, the age at which the crime was committed or the number of years since the offense.
“In a strong economy, there should be room for everyone who wants to and can contribute work and talent,” the article concluded. “…No one who has served their time should be expected to automatically serve a ‘life sentence’ of unemployment.”