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Convicted And Unemployed: How Local Action Is Changing Criminal Job Access47:45
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Is it time to stop asking job applicants if they’ve been convicted of a crime? We’ll look at employment and unemployment after prison.

A group of community activists in San Francisco, CA celebrate that city's February 2014 embrace of the Fair Chance Campaign's efforts to alter background checks on employment and housing for convicted criminals. (Courtesy All of Us Or None)
A group of community activists in San Francisco, CA celebrate that city's February 2014 embrace of the Fair Chance Campaign's efforts to alter background checks on employment and housing for convicted criminals. (Courtesy All of Us Or None)

Some 70 million Americans have arrests or criminal convictions in their backgrounds that may get in the way of them finding a job.  That’s a lot of people, often frozen out of the legal economy.  Now, more cities and states are trying to remove barriers to their employment.  Because they need jobs.  Because economies need their work.  Walmart and Target have removed the conviction question from their initial job applications.  More than a dozen states and a hundred cities have taken steps, too.  This hour On Point:  America the convicted, and how all those people are supposed to find work.
-- Tom Ashbrook

Guests

Binyamin Appelbaum, Washington correspondent for the New York Times. (@bcappelbaum)

Beth Milito, senior counsel for the National Federation of Independent Businesses.

Anthony Lowery, director of policy and advocacy at the Safer Foundation. (@anthonylowery10)

William Cobb, founder of Redeemed, an advocacy group that works to eliminate systemic employment discrimination for arrested and convicted individuals. Convicted criminal. (@stopthinkchoose)

From Tom’s Reading List

New York Times: Out of Trouble, but Criminal Records Keep Men Out of Work — "Rising concern that background checks are being used to systematically exclude applicants with criminal records is fueling a national 'ban the box' movement to improve their chances. The name refers to the box that job applicants are sometimes required to check if they have been convicted of a felony or a misdemeanor. Fourteen states and several dozen cities have passed laws, mostly in recent years, that generally require employers to postpone background checks until the later stages of the hiring process."

Washington Post: Georgia the latest state to ‘ban the box’ in hiring practices — "Every 'ban the box' state has applied the policy to state hiring. Six — Hawaii, Illinois, Massachusetts, Minnesota, Rhode Island and New Jersey — ban questions about prior convictions on job applications for private employment. Supporters, like the National Employment Law Project, say “ban the box” policies help people with criminal records reintegrate into society. The federal Equal Employment Opportunity Commission recommended removing conviction questions from employment applications in a 2012 report."

New Jersey Business: The Realities of ‘Ban the Box’ — "The New Jersey Opportunity to Compete Act, which takes effect March 1, forbids employers with 15 or more employees from asking job applicants about criminal histories on job applications and during initial interviews, with the logic that employers should objectively evaluate prospective employees before delving into – and potentially being negatively swayed by – their possible criminal histories. The law exempts emergency services and law enforcement occupations, for example, but applies to most jobs ranging from restaurant service and sales, to physical-labor intensive positions and knowledge-worker occupations."

This program aired on March 3, 2015.

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