I’m trying to study for my Writing course and I need some help to understand this question.
Former prisoners face a variety of challenges on their return to society. Securing adequate housing, mending weakened or broken family relationships, and managing substance abuse and mental health issues all play pivotal roles in successful reintegration. But, perhaps no challenge is greater, and more important, than finding employment.
Prior research demonstrates that employment is a key factor—perhaps the key factor—affecting successful reentry following imprisonment (Holzer, Raphael, & Stoll, 2002), largely because those who are unemployed are substantially more likely to return to crime than those who are employed (Burton, Cullen, & Travis, 1987; Clear, 2007). Employment also integrates people into society, organizes their lives, and expands social capital.
A recent study in Phoenix, Arizona, outlines the difficulty faced by many ex-offenders. Decker, Ortiz, Spohn and Hedberg (n.d.) used an experimental design in which pairs of male and female black, white, and Hispanic job seekers applied for jobs both online and in person. One member of each pair had served time in prison for a drug offense; in all other respects, their resumes were identical. Decker and his colleagues found that neither the applicant’s criminal record nor the applicant’s race/ethnicity affected hiring decisions when applicants applied for jobs online, but that both factors influenced employers’ decisions when applicants applied for jobs in person. Those who had served time for a drug offense were 22% less likely than applicants without a prison record to receive a favorable response from employers. They also found that, compared to white applicants, blacks and Hispanics who applied for jobs in person were significantly less likely to receive a request for a second interview or a job offer. The odds that black applicants would receive a favorable response were 21% smaller than the odds for white applicants and the probability that Hispanic applicants would receive a favorable response was 15% smaller than the probability for white applicants.
The fact that the applicants in their study had been imprisoned for a drug offense, and that drug offenders make up large proportions of the state and federal prison populations, means that significant numbers of ex-offenders will be disadvantaged. Unless and until this changes, improving the prospects for successful reintegration of ex-offenders will be difficult and recidivism rates will remain high.
Nationwide, over 150 cities and counties have adopted what is widely known as “ban the box” so that employers consider a job candidate’s qualifications first, without the stigma of a criminal record. Born out of the work of All of Us or None, these initiatives provide applicants a fair chance by removing the conviction history question on the job application and delaying the background check inquiry until later in the hiring.
Momentum for the policy has grown exponentially, particularly in recent years. Federally, former President Obama endorsed ban-the-box by directing federal agencies to delay inquiries into job applicants’ records until later in the hiring process.
Robust fair-chance employment laws ensure a fairer decision-making process by requiring employers to consider job-relatedness of a conviction, time passed, and mitigating circumstances or rehabilitation evidence. Fair chance policies benefit everyone because they’re good for families and the local community.
In 2018, Los Angeles County approved two motions recommending standards for establishing ‘fair chance’ legislation in L.A. County. The legislation which would apply to county government, businesses that contract with the county and businesses that operate in unincorporated L.A. County, would eliminate restrictions on employment that are based solely on criminal records. Policies could include not asking job seekers about criminal convictions until a conditional offer of employment is made, giving them an opportunity to appeal if an offer is rescinded and fining businesses that repeatedly flout the guidelines.
Q: How do you feel about this policy that appears to be ‘sweeping’ the nation? Should employers/businesses made special accommodations for applicants with criminal records? Should they be given ‘preferential’ hiring over other applicants? Should businesses have a ‘quota’ of employees with criminal records? (10% of openings in large organizations should be reserved for employees with criminal records?) Should the federal government provide financial incentives to businesses that hire ex-felons?
Do you support the following statement: “once someone has paid his/her debt to society, they ought to be afforded the opportunity to become productive citizens in the context of their respective communities. “ Support your answers.