A criminal record follows an ex-offender like an invisible ball and chain, even after his or her debt to society has been paid in full. Across the nation, there are 48,000 barriers to employment, housing, and education, which make reintegration into civil society more difficult. In many instances, the collateral consequence is not proportionate or relevant to the history of the individual. When 1 in 3 or as many as 100 million American adults have a criminal record, that’s a problem of epic proportions.
This issue isn’t going away. America has seen a 500 percent increase in incarceration in the last forty years and the vast majority of people incarcerated will someday rejoin society. Individuals who served time in prison are faced with higher unemployment rates and a 40 percent decrease in annual earnings. Improving education and job opportunities for returning citizens has a recognized effect on reducing crime and recidivism while improving public safety. Businesses agree, which is why over 300 have signed the Fair Chance Business Pledge.
Reforming the justice system to mitigate the lifelong consequences of a criminal record for ex-offenders trying to start over benefits not only the returning citizen but society as a whole.
Occupational Licensing Reform:
As many know expanding job opportunities for returning citizens is the best way to ensure they remain crime-free. In that regard, our Coalition supports eliminating occupational licensing limitations that discriminate solely by prior criminal history and don't take into account job qualification.
Fair Chance Hiring Practices:
We support the adoption of fair chance hiring practices, like ban the box, by federal, state, and local level government agencies. Fair chance hiring policies prevent the automatic or categorical disqualifications for employment of those with a criminal record. When adopted by government agencies, and voluntarily opted into by private businesses, fair chance hiring policies expand job opportunities and limit the cycle of incarceration.
Record Sealing and Expungement:
When appropriate, our Coalition supports opportunities to expand record sealing, expungement, and other criminal record policies for low-level, nonviolent offenders who have paid their debt to society and have remained crime-free.