“Each of us is more than the worst thing we’ve ever done.”
Bryan Stevenson, Just Mercy: A Story of Justice and Redemption
Every day, people are released from prison after serving the sentence imposed by our criminal justice system. Some say these people “have paid their debt to society.” However, in reality, their prison sentence never ends; they bear the mark of an ex-convict like a scarlet letter, and this has far-reaching consequences
One example is employment: people with a criminal record are virtually shut out of the job market because job applicants are sometimes required to check a box to indicate if they have been convicted of a felony or a misdemeanor. Having a record will reduce employer call back rates by 50% for men in general and 60% for African American men.
“The unemployment rate for formerly incarcerated people is nearly five times higher than the unemployment rate for the general United States population, and substantially higher than even the worst years of the Great Depression.” (Prison Policy Initiative) Employment is the number one factor in decreasing the likelihood that a person will return to jail.
It is time to give people who served their sentence a second chance and an opportunity to rebuild their lives by finding employment.
Click on this link to urge your member of Congress to co-sponsor the bipartisan, bicameral Fair Chance Act (S.387/H.R.1076). This legislation will “ban the box” on employment applications that indicates a prior conviction, and require hiring managers in the federal government and federal contractors to wait until the job application process is further along before inquiring about past criminal convictions.