Ex-offenders jobs bill gains support

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For the past several months, the Formerly Convicted Citizens Project has been working to gain support for legislation that would remove questions of criminal convictions on job applications. The group’s most recent stop of their “Move the Box” campaign trail was to a Public Safety Council meeting at the zone 3 police station.

“I’m working closely with city council to bring new legislation to the city. I’m advocating for people, like myself, who have turned their lives around,” said Dean Williams, FCCP director. “I have been asked by city council to go around to their constituents to educate them about this legislation.”

DeanWilliams
DEAN WILLIAMS (Photo by J.L. Martello)

The legislation, first proposed by District 9 councilman Rev. Ricky Burgess in April, would move questions about convictions to the interview portion of the application process. By removing convictions from the initial consideration process, FCCP hopes formerly convicted citizens will be judged based on their merits as opposed to their past.

“We’re asking employers not to include the box in the initial application process. The box doesn’t discriminate between someone who committed a crime 20 years ago and someone who committed a murder last month,” Williams said. “There are a lot of cities, counties and even states that have passed this legislation. You need a way to be self sufficient.”

At the meeting Sept. 28, to a group of concerned citizens discussing the damage being done in their neighborhoods by those breaking the law, Williams presented his legislation advocating for those who have broken the law. Despite the imbalance, the group was overwhelming supportive of the “Move the Box” campaign with everyone at the meeting adding their signature to the legislation’s petition.

The legislation would relate to city hiring and would prohibit the city from making a criminal background check until after it makes a conditional offer of employment. After conducting the background check, if the city finds evidence that would make them change their mind about hiring the candidate, they must submit their reasoning in writing and the candidate would have ten days to appeal the decision.

‘The employer has 100 percent discretion on who they want to hire and who they don’t want to hire,” said Jen England, FCCP media representative. “It’s good for communities because it reduces crime because people who are employed are far less likely to commit crimes.” For the past several months, the Formerly Convicted Citizens Project has been working to gain support for legislation that would remove questions of criminal convictions on job applications. The group’s most recent stop of their “Move the Box” campaign trail was to a Public Safety Council meeting at the zone 3 police station.

“I’m working closely with city council to bring new legislation to the city. I’m advocating for people, like myself, who have turned their lives around,” said Dean Williams, FCCP director. “I have been asked by city council to go around to their constituents to educate them about this legislation.”

The legislation, first proposed by District 9 councilman Rev. Ricky Burgess in April, would move questions about convictions to the interview portion of the application process. By removing convictions from the initial consideration process, FCCP hopes formerly convicted citizens will be judged based on their merits as opposed to their past.

“We’re asking employers not to include the box in the initial application process. The box doesn’t discriminate between someone who committed a crime 20 years ago and someone who committed a murder last month,” Williams said. “There are a lot of cities, counties and even states that have passed this legislation. You need a way to be self sufficient.”

At the meeting Sept. 28, to a group of concerned citizens discussing the damage being done in their neighborhoods by those breaking the law, Williams presented his legislation advocating for those who have broken the law. Despite the imbalance, the group was overwhelming supportive of the “Move the Box” campaign with everyone at the meeting adding their signature to the legislation’s petition.

The legislation would relate to city hiring and would prohibit the city from making a criminal background check until after it makes a conditional offer of employment. After conducting the background check, if the city finds evidence that would make them change their mind about hiring the candidate, they must submit their reasoning in writing and the candidate would have ten days to appeal the decision.

‘The employer has 100 percent discretion on who they want to hire and who they don’t want to hire,” said Jen England, FCCP media representative. “It’s good for communities because it reduces crime because people who are employed are far less likely to commit crimes.”

Similar legislation has been passed statewide in Hawaii, Massachusetts and Minnesota with proven benefits to the general public. Studies have consistently shown that ex-offenders who find jobs are less likely to commit more crimes and return to prison or jail.

This legislation can also lead to enhanced public safety and reduced expenditures for incarceration. Similar legislation has been passed in Philadelphia.

“I have to say the mayor (in Philadelphia) is my hero only behind the police chief there,” said Zone 3 Commander Catherine McNeilly, who signed the petition in support of the legislation. “I commend you because I think if the African-American community had more male role models it would make life much easier. And you, along with the leaders in Philadelphia are just that.”

Similar legislation has been passed statewide in Hawaii, Massachusetts and Minnesota with proven benefits to the general public. Studies have consistently shown that ex-offenders who find jobs are less likely to commit more crimes and return to prison or jail.

This legislation can also lead to enhanced public safety and reduced expenditures for incarceration. Similar legislation has been passed in Philadelphia.

“I have to say the mayor (in Philadelphia) is my hero only behind the police chief there,” said Zone 3 Commander Catherine McNeilly, who signed the petition in support of the legislation. “I commend you because I think if the African-American community had more male role models it would make life much easier. And you, along with the leaders in Philadelphia are just that.”

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