Jobs after Jail: Ending the prison to poverty pipeline

Source: Allyson Fredericksen & Desiree Omli, Alliance for a Just Society, Job Gap Economic Prosperity series, February 2016

From the summary:
A prison sentence often doesn’t end on the day of release. For many people with conviction records, their sentence will continue for years to come with barriers to employment and housing.

Research in the report, “Jobs after Jail: Ending the prison to poverty pipeline,” by the Alliance for a Just Society, show that states have an average of 123 mandatory bans and restrictions preventing people with felony convictions from employment in certain occupations or from obtaining certain occupational or business licenses….

…..Beyond recidivism, though, finding work helps keep those with conviction records out of poverty. The Center for American Progress notes that a 2013 study found that that nation’s poverty rate would have been down 20 percent between 1980 and 2004 “if not for mass incarceration and the subsequent criminal records that haunt people for years after they have paid their debt to society.”

Recommendations in “Jobs after Jail” show that there are a variety of tools that can be used to ensure that a conviction record does not lead to a lifetime of poverty, including “Banning the Box” on employment applications, re-evaluating laws restricting employment in specific occupations, and making those with conviction records eligible for safety net services.

Additionally, a Certificate of Rehabilitation can help potential employers, licensing agencies, or even landlords assess the suitability, safety, and welfare of an applicant or renter. These certificates “can offer a presumption of rehabilitation … or at minimum an individual’s commitment to rehabilitation,” helping eliminate personal discrimination and providing additional evidence of rehabilitation and desire to reintegrate into the community.

So far, six states: Arizona, California, Illinois, Nevada, New Jersey, and New York use some form of these certificates, and Washington State is one of the latest states to propose adoption of a similar system….