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Showing posts with label companies that hire ex felons. Show all posts
Showing posts with label companies that hire ex felons. Show all posts

Tuesday, May 29, 2018

Inmates who learn trades are often blocked from jobs. Now something's being done.

Inmates who learn trades are often blocked from jobs. Now something's being done.
Inmates talk while participating in the barber school program at the Stateville Correctional Center in Crest Hill, Illinois on Feb. 11, 2014.Lathan Goumas / The Herald-News via AP

Half the states bar ex-cons from getting the occupational licenses they need to re-enter the workforce. Lawmakers on both sides of the aisle say it doesn't make sense.

by Adam Edelman / NBC News

Mike Grennan, a former convict who's getting by piecing together small construction gigs in Port Huron, Michigan, says he's paid his debt to society — but, when it comes to getting an occupational license to be a home-building contractor, he just can't outrun his criminal past.  That's because Michigan, like two dozen other states, has laws on the books that prevent ex-felons like Grennan from getting the professional licenses they need to work in a variety of blue-collar trades, including cutting hair, welding, doing makeup and cosmetics, construction and more.

"It really frustrates me. I have a really good work ethic, and I've paid my debt to society," said Grennan, 46, who has been in and out of state prison for chunks of his adult life, due to a series of convictions he said stem from an addiction to heroin.


Inmates who learn trades are often blocked from jobs. Now something's being done.
Mike Grennan finds work as a subcontractor for small projects in Port Huron, Mich., but he hasn't been able to get his occupational license to be a homebuilder because of his criminal past.Courtesy Mike Grennan

Now, a growing number of states are trying to bring down the barriers convicts face in re-entering the workforce after their release — and that includes a new raft of laws in recent months that have drawn bipartisan support and are aimed at making it easier for ex-cons to get occupational licenses in fields from which they were formerly barred because of their criminal pasts.

Since his 2013 release from Michigan's Jackson State Prison, where he served a three-year sentence on larceny and stolen property charges, Grennan has been blocked from getting his residential maintenance and alteration contractor's license — which he needs to legally work as a homebuilding/renovation contractor. That's because of "good moral character" clauses in Michigan law that essentially prohibit people with felony convictions from getting approved for more than 70 percent of occupational licenses granted by the state.

More than 70 million Americans with prior criminal records are facing similar barriers to re-entering the workforce, where 25 percent of all jobs require an occupational or professional license, according to the National Employment Law Project, a left-leaning workers rights nonprofit based in New York.
"You're looking at crisis in which a large proportion of the American public are just locked out of all sorts of jobs, which not only hurts them and their families, but creates a challenge for employers, often times in in-demand occupations that are looking for qualified workers," said Maurice Emsellem, NELP’s Fair Chance Program director.

The added irony, Emsellem and other experts said, is that so many others, in similar situations to Grennan, actually learned their trade in prison, where they were preparing to come out ready to find a job and re-enter society — only to find out that they can't.


Inmates who learn trades are often blocked from jobs. Now something's being done.
Inmates training to become commercial underwater divers receive classroom instruction at the California Institution for Men state prison in Chino, California. They are among those who can get the licenses they need to get jobs. Patrick T. Fallon / Bloomberg via Getty Images

"There's a lot training happening in construction and manufacturing inside prisons," Emsellem said. "People go through all this effort to reform themselves. And then they can't work when they get out. It's an extraordinary and powerful irony.”

This year, at least eight states have tried to fix the problem.  In March, Delaware Gov. John Carney, a Democrat, signed into law a measure removing some obstacles for former convicts seeking licenses in cosmetology, barbering, electrology, nail technology and aesthetics. Under the law, state licensing boards can no longer include convictions older than 10 years as part of their consideration process; and the waiting period prospective licensees must observe before applying for a waiver of a prior felony conviction was slashed to three years from five.

Weeks earlier, Indiana Gov. Eric Holcomb, a Republican, signed a similar bill that eliminated "good moral character" and "moral turpitude" clauses from licensing board requirements and forced boards to limit disqualifying crimes to those "specifically and directly" related to the profession in which the applicant was seeking a license.

Also that month, Nebraska Gov. Pete Ricketts, a Republican, signed bill mandating that occupational licensing boards render their decisions about whether past convictions would be considered disqualifying before applicants spend time and money on training and classes. Previously, applicants had to complete relevant training before even applying for their license.

Similar laws have gone into effect this year in Tennessee, Wyoming, Kansas, Maryland and Massachusetts. And since 2015 — following a set of best practices for state lawmakers published by the Obama White House regarding occupational licensing reform — at least seven other states have put laws on the books lessening licensing restrictions for applicants with criminal histories, according to the Institute for Justice, a libertarian-leaning public interest law firm.

The restrictions were originally enacted to increase public safety by ensuring that licensed tradespeople met high standards, experts said. But states that have maintained such obstacles to re-entering the workforce for former convicts have actually seen public safety harmed, according to a widely cited 2016 study by Arizona State University economics professor Stephen Slivinski, because the laws result in significantly higher rates of criminal recidivism. The study also found that states with fewer restrictions have lower rates of recidivism.

Even as bipartisan support in state capitals across the U.S. for reform is growing, not everyone's on board.  Bill Cobb, who now works as the deputy director for the ACLU's Campaign for Smart Justice, knows all about it.

In 1993, Cobb, then a 24-year-old college student in Philadelphia and a veteran of Operation Desert Storm, pleaded guilty to robbery, criminal conspiracy and kidnapping charges for driving the getaway car in a crime. After he served a six-year sentence at a Pennsylvania state prison, Cobb enrolled in a Philadelphia program that would set him up to get an occupation license for commercial truck driving.

"I took out thousands of dollar in loans, passed all the written exams," Cobb said, "only to find out that that I would not even be able to get a job driving as a result of not being able to get an occupational license."

Cobb later found work as a telemarketer before embarking on an advocacy career to help people who faced a similar predicament coming out of prison. "I did my time. I was ready to move on and live my life well," he said.

Pennsylvania has to date rejected substantial changes in its licensing laws.


Updated List of Companies that Hire Ex-offenders and Felons


Jobs for Felons: The Facts about Companies that Hire Ex offenders and Felons (2018)



companies hire felons | companies that hire felons | Companies that hire ex-offenders | Employers that hire ex-offenders | employers that hire felons | Jobs for felons | jobs for ex-offenders | jobs that hire felons | places that hire felons | felon friendly jobs | felon friendly employers | how to get a job with criminal record | second chance jobs for felons | temp agencies that hire felons | high paying jobs for felons

Eric Mayo

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Monday, May 21, 2018

Oregon company makes a point of hiring ex-convicts

 Oregon company makes a point of hiring ex-convicts
About one in three of the more than 300 employees at Oregon-based Dave's Killer Bread has a criminal background.  - 
By 
A major effort is under way in this country to reform the way we sentence drug criminals. Thousands of felons are getting early release according to the U.S. Sentencing Commission,  and that will continue for years to come.
The question is, will there be jobs for them?
If you visit the bakery at Dave's Killer Bread outside Portland, you'll find pumps sucking two-thousand pounds of ingredients into mixing bowls.  You'll also find that a third of the company's 300 employees have a criminal past, including plant manager Ronnie Elrod. 
“We're just so happy to have a job that typically we've got an attitude of gratitude rather than a sense of entitlement.  And we also know that opportunities are going to be hard to come by for us so we have to take those opportunities that come along and we really have to make good on them,” Elrod said.
And Harvard sociologist Devah Pager believes that's true.  She is studying the job performance of ex-cons in the military. “Those with serious criminal pasts perform just as well if not better than their counterparts with no criminal records.  At least with appropriate kinds of screening, individuals with serious criminal records can perform very well in the workplace,” she said.
Another of Pager's studies  shows that a criminal record seriously reduces the chances of getting a job. “I hired groups of young men to pose as job applicants and sent them all over the city applying for jobs and half the time they reported having a felony conviction and simply by checking that box, their chances of  receiving a call-back or job offer were cut in half,” Pager said.
Dave's Killer Bread has hired so many ex-convicts because, well because of Dave...Dave Dahl, that is. After serving 15 years for drug crimes, Dahl returned to his family's bakery and in 2005 created his namesake bread. “It was based on the epiphany I had in prison which was that I could turn my own life around and eventually the feeling was that we could help others to do the same thing if they were willing to do most of the work themselves,” Dahl said.
The company uses its hiring practices as a selling point, with Dahl's picture on every package, even though a judge put him on conditional release after he rammed into some police cars two years ago.
This year Dave's Killer Bread was sold to Flowers Foods for $275 million. 


 Oregon company makes a point of hiring ex-convicts



Jobs for Felons: The Facts about Companies that Hire Ex offenders and Felons (2018)





companies hire felons | companies that hire felons | Companies that hire ex-offenders | Employers that hire ex-offenders | employers that hire felons | Jobs for felons | jobs for ex-offenders | jobs that hire felons | places that hire felons | felon friendly jobs | felon friendly employers | how to get a job with criminal record | second chance jobs for felons | temp agencies that hire felons | high paying jobs for felons


Oregon company makes a point of hiring ex-convicts


Eric Mayo

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Thursday, May 17, 2018

Felon with Many Skills Needs a Job

Felon with Many Skills Needs a Job


Felon with Many Skills Needs a Job
In 2004 I committed a Felony 4 Theft . I was convicted but no jail time, I was placed on probation which I have completed. In 2006, I was given another Felony for Unemployment Fraud again no jail time and amount paid back before court hearing. These two Felonies were huge mistakes in my life and very humiliating for me everyday of my life. I went from a $70,000 a year job in Dayton, Ohio with great benefits to a $40,000 a year job with little to no benefits and currently unemployed.

Through these past seven years I have lost my family of two wonderful children and a great wife who has been by my side through all of this humiliation. I lost my home and my dignity We all live from my mistakes and I keep trying to get back into the career I am very good at but can not get past the background checks that many companies require before they hire a person. Twice, I made it all the way to actually going to the new work place and working over 5 hours before the HR department came down with a delayed background report and the bad news that I can not work for this company due to background convictions.

I am so tired of having to live each day in humiliation, not being able to provide for my family and have a place to call my own home. I have learned many things these past seven years and have seen how less forfeit people survive on little to no income. I have an education and so many technical skills and can get hundreds of jobs at or around $80,000 a year and could provide for myself and my family and their futures for college and retirement. but I get shutdown with one question, “have you ever been convicted of a felony”.

I am asking you to please help me in any way you can to be able to get these two mistakes off my background. I am sincerely sorry for all my mistakes.

Please, any advice would be helpful. I am losing hope and faith!

Thank You,

G.S.


 Felon with Many Skills Needs a Job



Hello G.S.,

Finding a job with a criminal record often isn't easy. Ex-offenders and felons stand a better chance at getting hired by applying at smaller businesses. Smaller businesses are less apt to spend money on expensive background checks. One out-of-the-box suggestion I have is, if the the application on paper, leave the question that relates to having a criminal record blank. It is often overlooked by being left blank and you won’t have to address the question at all. If it is noticed, and you are questioned, always answer truthfully. Hopefully you will get an interview where the employer will get a chance to meet the person behind the application and you can sell yourself.

Felon with Many Skills Needs a Job
I often suggest to ex-offenders and felons looking for employment is to apply for temporary employment. There are clerical or other jobs that would put you in an office environment. There was a time that going to a temporary agency was the last resort for many job seekers, but for ex-offenders and felons looking for jobs, it is a good place to begin a new career.  In the past five years, the demand for temporary employees has risen over 30%.  In these tough economic times, companies are searching for ways to keep their labor costs down so they can remain competitive.  More and more employers are utilizing temporary staffing agencies as a way to cost effectively fill vacancies.  Not only do companies save money by using temporary labor, they get an opportunity to try out new workers before hiring them on a full time basis.  Another interesting trend is the length of assignments.  It is not uncommon for an assignment to last up to six months, so a temporary assignment may not be so temporary.  Often companies end up hiring their temporary help if they prove to be good employees.  You may also pick up some new skills and even make new business contacts that may be valuable later.

There is a twist for ex-offenders and felons when it comes to applying for temporary assignments. They should apply at smaller independent temporary employment agencies. Independent agencies don't have to deal with restrictions larger agencies may have placed on them by their parent companies as they relate to hiring ex-offenders and felons. They are free to hire anyone they choose. You can find listing in your local telephone directory and make appointments for interviews and prepare yourself accordingly. Be professional and dress as if it's a 'real' interview, because it is.  You will be employed by the staffing agency and they will send you to assignments.  Make sure you have an up-to-date resume and work on your interviewing skills. While agencies unquestionably will look at your work history and skills to determine a proper fit, the interview is the key to getting a good placement.  The person conducting the interview is usually the same person who will decide what assignment you'll be offered. Your aim should always be to make a good first impression. Do not talk about your criminal history until you are directly asked about it.  If you are asked, be honest but brief.


Even if the assignment you get isn't in your field, hey, a bucks a buck and it will help tide you over until better opportunities present themselves.

Best of luck to you.


Jobs for Ex-offenders and Felons: Where can Ex-offenders Find Jobs

Jobs for Ex-offenders and Felons: Ten Steps to Getting a Job with a Criminal Record



Felon with Many Skills Needs a Job


Jobs for Felons: The Facts about Companies that Hire Ex offenders and Felons 






Felon with Many Skills Needs a Job


companies hire felons | companies that hire felons | Companies that hire ex-offenders | Employers that hire ex-offenders | employers that hire felons |Jobs for felons | jobs for ex-offenders | jobs that hire felons | places that hire felons | felon friendly jobs | felon friendly employers | how to get a job with criminal record | second chance jobs for felons | temp agencies that hire felons | high paying jobs for felons

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Monday, May 7, 2018

Jobs for Felons: Why Ex-Prisoners Struggle to Successfully Reintegrate into Society

Felon Housing


By Dr. Michael Pittaro, Faculty Member, Criminal Justice at American Military University

Every week, more than 10,000 prisoners are released from America’s state and federal prisons, equating to more than 650,000 ex-prisoners annually reintegrating into society, according to the U.S. Department of Justice. However, recidivism rates are extremely high with approximately two-thirds of ex-prisoners being rearrested within three years of release, according to the Recidivism Center. It’s estimated that nine million offenders return to prison annually.


It’s clear that there’s not enough support to help ex-prisoners stay out of the correctional system. This is just one element sustaining the disproportionate incarceration of African American males. The likelihood of an African American male being sentenced to prison in his lifetime is one in three, whereas for a Caucasian male it is one in 17, according to The Huffington Post. Similarly, African American females are being sentenced to prison at a far greater rate than Caucasian females.

The criminal justice system needs more resources to improve reintegration efforts and help ex-offenders find adequate jobs and housing so they’re less likely to re-offend. Helping ex-prisoners successfully reintegrate into society will not only reduce costly recidivism rates, but, in many cases, will help break the intergenerational cycle of criminality.

Improving Housing Options for Ex-Prisoners

Most ex-prisoners will return to the same communities they lived and socialized in before their arrest. In many cases, these are neighborhoods that have high rates of poverty and crime, leaving many residents feeling disenfranchised from society with little access to social support programs.

In a prior publication, “Prisoner Reintegration Challenges of Assimilation and Crime Desistance,” I concluded that most ex-prisoners returning to these communities will face uncertainty over their future and animosity from a predominantly unforgiving society, as well as a multitude of personal, social, and legal barriers that prevent them from leading law-abiding lives.

Finding safe and affordable housing is difficult for ex-prisoners who often face limitations on where they can live. Many times, low-income public housing is their only choice. These housing developments are often overrun with drugs, gang violence, and other criminogenic factors. Private housing is often not an option because ex-prisoners are exclusively barred from the private housing market due to the stigma of being an ex-felon.

In some cases, even the public housing market has banned ex-prisoners from renting or leasing an apartment, which can happen if the criminal conviction was drug-related, a sexual offense, or a crime of violence as outlined in the exclusionary policies of the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development. If ex-prisoners are forced to return to the same destructive environment that contributed to their initial incarceration, they will often submit to the same temptations and reoffend.

Barriers to Employment for Ex-Prisoners

Along with obtaining suitable housing, finding and maintaining employment can greatly improve an ex-prisoner’s odds of leading a crime-free, productive life. However, ex-prisoners face the society-wide stigma of being an ex-convict, which severely limits the number of sustainable job opportunities available to them.

Many employers conduct criminal history checks on prospective employees and reject anyone with a criminal history. In a somewhat dated, yet significant Urban Institute study from 2003, more than 90 percent of employers surveyed were willing to consider filling job vacancies with welfare recipients, while only about 40 percent were willing to consider hiring an ex-prisoner.

Companies in the retail and service sector that require contact with customers are among the most unlikely to consider hiring a convict. Employer reluctance is greatest when the offense in question was a violent one and least when it was a nonviolent drug offense.

Many ex-prisoners are limited to working inconsistent, low-wage jobs – such as in construction or manufacturing – that make it incredibly difficult to support themselves and their families. In addition, ex-prisoners are often mandated to pay further penalties including parole supervision fees, court costs, restitution, child support, drug-testing fees, counseling fees, and more.

To complicate matters further, finding employment opportunities can be especially challenging because many offenders have limited work histories. According to the Bureau of Justice Statistics, more than one third of all prisoners were unemployed at the time of arrest.

Educational Obstacles to Finding Employment

The National Reentry Resource Center concluded that only about half of incarcerated adults have a high school degree or its equivalent, compared with 85 percent of the adult population. In Prisoner Reintegration Challenges of Assimilation and Crime Desistance, I noted that most ex-prisoners do not have viable, marketable job skills, or sufficient literacy to obtain gainful employment.

To compound matters, many prisoners have a learning disability. According to Joan Petersilia, 11 percent of prisoners have a documented learning disability compared with only 3 percent of the general adult population.

While there are some educational opportunities available to inmates while they are imprisoned, only one third of all prisoners choose to participate. Educational programming, including specific classes that focus on GED preparation, adult basic education, and learning English as a second language, would collectively improve odds of employment.

There’s no doubt that more must be done to help break down the barriers that hinder ex-prisoners from leading law-abiding and productive lives. Helping them find adequate housing and providing educational opportunities that leads to gainful employment are all critical to successful reintegration and reductions in recidivism. However, ultimate change must come from the offender. The ex-prisoner can break the cycle of criminality only by changing his or her unlawful ways. Ex-prisoners must abstain from crime, substance abuse, and other problematic areas which put themselves at risk. They must also seek out opportunities to improve their situation and put in the work and effort to lead productive and lawful lives.

About the Author: Dr. Michael Pittaro is an Assistant Professor of Criminal Justice with American Military University and an Adjunct Professor at East Stroudsburg University. Dr. Pittaro is a criminal justice veteran, highly experienced in working with criminal offenders in a variety of institutional and non-institutional settings. Before pursuing a career in higher education, Dr. Pittaro worked in corrections administration; has served as the Executive Director of an outpatient drug and alcohol facility and as Executive Director of a drug and alcohol prevention agency. Dr. Pittaro has been teaching at the university level (online and on-campus) for the past 15 years while also serving internationally as an author, editor, presenter, and subject matter expert. Dr. Pittaro holds a BS in Criminal Justice; an MPA in Public Administration; and a PhD in criminal justice. To contact the author, please email IPSauthor@apus.edu. For more articles featuring insight from industry experts, subscribe to In Public Safety’s bi-monthly newsletter.




Companies that hire felons





companies hire felons | companies that hire felons | Companies that hire ex-offenders | Employers that hire ex-offenders | employers that hire felons | Jobs for felons | jobs for ex-offenders | jobs that hire felons | places that hire felons | felon friendly jobs | felon friendly employers | how to get a job with criminal record | second chance jobs for felons | recidivism | Re-entry

Jobs for Felons: Why Ex-Prisoners Struggle to Successfully Reintegrate into Society




Eric Mayo

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Friday, May 4, 2018

Jobs for Felons: Give former felons a chance to work

J.T. Weis - The Detroit News


Jobs for Felons: Give former felons a chance to work
Picture by By https://kazan.vperemen.com/
At Abcor Industries we live out the triple bottom line: people, planet, and profit. This is driven by my faith, which teaches that all people are of equal value, redeemable and entitled to the dignity that God intended when he created us.

After years of working in the corporate world, my desire to live a more meaningful existence continued to grow. With that in mind, entrepreneurship was the path to pursue this goal and I acquired Abcor Industries in Holland, Michigan.



Abcor has the technology for powder coating wood and is leading the drive for innovating higher performing wood materials.

Owning Abcor allows us the freedom to make decisions which improve people’s lives and drive an enterprise that contributes to the betterment of the planet. Additionally, we support important nonprofit entities, institutions and schools.

As a senior manager at publicly traded companies, I wasn’t able to deploy a felon hiring strategy — or consider anyone with a criminal history. With Abcor, we are breaking the stigmas and helping change people’s lives.

More than half of our production employees have been convicted of felonies and have served long sentences, hence repaying their debt to society. My intention is to continue to do everything possible to ensure they are productive members of a dynamic entrepreneurial company.

Productive employment is the leading force in their personal mission to build a new successful life as a responsible tax paying citizen. Productive employment is the leading factor in reducing recidivism. We are an important component of their life recovery. They are a vital part of our success.

Recently, I was invited to a forum on the subject of hiring re-entering citizens. At first, it was very encouraging to see so many human resource executives interested and open to the practice. However, each of the executives had a common theme of being only interested in “light felony” applicants. This was clearly driven by a risk mitigation approach.

Toward the end of the forum, they asked me to opine on their approach. They were surprised by my response that short sentence “light felony” applicants had a higher fallout rate and were more difficult to manage. Those who have served the longer sentences are very motivated, highly loyal and committed to the mission.

Currently, we at Abcor and other employers are urging the Legislature to pass bills currently before the state House Law and Justice Committee that would remove some barriers to employment and require objective reasons for denying parole to low-risk prisoners.

Right now, there are too many who remain incarcerated and present the lowest risk to public safety. The law requires that denying parole to people who present the lowest risk to public safety can only be based on objective reasonings. Subjective parole denial is immoral, and it’s wrong. Not only is it counter to our values, it also wastes millions of taxpayer dollars annually on keeping these low-risk prisoners locked up.

There remains much more the state of Michigan can do to help. It should continue to expand vocational training during incarceration, implement laws and financial benefits for bridging organizations that help the released find employment, housing and transportation. In my view, the Department of Corrections could and should become a powerful force by investing in these systems and have a positive impact on workforce development.

Every year, nearly 10,000 people return from prison to Michigan communities. Many are unable to find employment due to their criminal records, even though many employers face a shortage of available workers. There exists a significant opportunity to do better.

Those in position to do so, should construct systems, laws and enterprises to set the groundwork for personal recovery. There is a major win-win for society available to us all and we need to act upon it.

J.T. Weis is the owner of Abcor Industries in Holland, Michigan.


Companies that hire Felons



From Jail to a Job




Jobs for Felons: Give former felons a chance to work



companies hire felons | companies that hire felons | Companies that hire ex-offenders | Employers that hire ex-offenders | employers that hire felons | Jobs for felons | jobs for ex-offenders | jobs that hire felons | places that hire felons | felon friendly jobs | felon friendly employers | how to get a job with criminal record | second chance jobs for felons | temp agencies that hire felons | high paying jobs for felons


Eric Mayo

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Tuesday, May 1, 2018

Meet Larry, an ex-offender who got a second chance thanks to a good law









Meet Larry, an ex-offender who got a second chance thanks to a good law
Last year, I wrote a highly critical opinion piece for the Sun-Times about Gov. Bruce Rauner after learning that he had denied clemency for a client of mine.

Given Rauner’s extreme reluctance to grant clemency to ex-offenders, even to those like my client who had gone on to live honest and productive lives for many years, I questioned why anybody would bother to file the petition.

Though I couldn’t  know it at the time, however, that same governor soon would lay the groundwork for my client to earn a second chance. In August 2017, Rauner signed House Bill 2373 into law. This legislation resulted in a significant expansion of the kinds of criminal records a judge can decide to seal from public view.

Last month, as a result of that law, a judge granted my client’s petition to seal his record, closing the book on my client’s addiction-fueled criminal conduct, which began when he was 17 and ended when he was 31.  Today, he is 51.

My client’s story, which he has given me permission to tell as long as I don’t use his real name, reminds us that people who make bad decisions as teens and young adults still can grow into law-abiding, productive members of society. If we don’t start believing in our human capacity to change — to learn from our mistakes — we will fail to see the potential in many of our fellow, returning citizens.

My client, Larry, grew up in Chicago with an alcoholic father. His mother managed apartment buildings. Neither of his parents graduated from high school. Larry himself struggled in school, and was diagnosed with dyslexia in the fifth grade. Once assigned to special ed classes, he was teased and bullied relentlessly.

The summer before Larry entered high school, he started drinking beer. By his freshman year, he was smoking weed and using cocaine. He dropped out of school after his sophomore year. A year later, he was arrested for the first time.

He was charged with felony burglary and sentenced to probation.

In no time at all, Larry had gone from high school dropout to convicted felon. His future did not bode well. It is estimated that more than 70 percent of the men and women in United States prisons did not graduate from high school.

Larry’s next arrest, for residential burglary, occurred while he was still on probation. He was sentenced to prison – the first of two prison stints he would serve before turning 20. Larry’s preferred choice of crime? Breaking into cars, though he wasn’t particularly good at it. He was usually drunk or high when arrested.

In 1990, Larry picked up his fourth — and final — felony conviction. He was spared prison, though, sentenced instead to an intensive, in-patient drug treatment.

Larry struggled with his sobriety for another 10 years. But a health scare in 2000 finally convinced him to stop drinking and drugging.

Today, Larry takes his sobriety seriously. He has been sober for nearly 18 years. He attends Alcoholics Anonymous meetings three times a week.

A couple of years ago, he met his wife at an AA meeting. With her encouragement and support, he started meeting with a literacy tutor. At the time, his reading comprehension was that of a second grader. Today, he can read at a fifth-grade level.

So there you have it: Larry is sober. He can read a bit better. And he always manages to work for a living, despite his significant educational deficits. The jobs he has found, such as valet parking attendant, don’t pay well, but they are honorable and he has gotten by.

I met Larry and his wife in 2015 and filed his clemency petition in 2016. While the petition was pending, Larry was selected to be a participant in the CTA’s Second Chance Program, cleaning buses and rail cars. Recently, he completed his second full year in the program.

Earlier this year, shortly before a judge granted his petition to seal his criminal record — made possible by the law Rauner signed — Larry learned that his name has been added to the CTA’s hire list.

Over the years, Larry has learned not to give up on himself. And today, he says at age 51, he feels like a “different man.”

He’s a man of few words, but on the day after the judge granted his petition, he called me to say thanks.

How did he feel?

“Really, really good,” Larry said with a chuckle. “Like I never got in trouble before, though I know I did.”

Ina R. Silvergleid is a Chicago attorney and owner of A Bridge Forward LLC. She specializes in helping people with a criminal background eliminate barriers to employment, professional licensing and housing.


Companies that hire Felons


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Eric Mayo

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Saturday, April 21, 2018

Jobs for Felons: Navigating a Digital World After 40 Years in Prison

Aaron Mondry - Splinter News - Detroit

 Navigating a Digital World After 40 Years in Prison



Edward Minor had a paper due for his English class on income inequality at Wayne County Community College in Detroit. He’d completed all the research and knew what he wanted to write. The main issue was time—he only had a few hours.

But countless, frustrating obstacles delayed his progress, from the laborious pace at which 62-year-old Minor types to figuring out how to save his document. The final step, however, was really tripping him up. Since he was using a computer at the library, he needed to email the file to himself so he could edit it later on a different computer.

“Do I just put my email address up here?” Minor asked, pointing to the bar at the top of the web browser. Eventually he got some help from a computer technician, but he wasn’t confident he’d be able to find the document later.

“They’re doing it so fast and I’m trying to follow,” he says. “They don’t see that there’s a baby right here in front of them. I’m a baby out here!”

Jobs for Felons: Navigating a Digital World After 40 Years in Prison




Ed Minor types at the Detroit Public Library, wearing a pin with a photo of Angela Davis.
Photo: Nick Hagen

Indeed, Minor’s relationship to the world isn’t so different from that of an infant. That’s because, in October 2017, Minor was released from prison after being incarcerated for more than 40 years. A modern-day Rip Van Winkle (who left society for a mere two decades), Minor is adrift in a society that left him behind.

The hunt-and-peck typing method he employs, which itself is slower than usual, is just the beginning of his technological difficulties. The computers, wireless internet, and touch screens that many take for granted are alien to him. Even looking at a computer screen—with all its strange icons, commands, and windows—is like deciphering the Rosetta Stone.
While Minor may be an extreme case, he squarely fits the description of Americans who suffer most from the digital divide, a phenomenon that describes how technology can contribute to inequality: He’s elderly, he’s poor, and he’s a person of color.

Resolving the divide’s underlying issues will be anything but simple, but the negative effects are pretty straightforward. If you don’t have access to the internet or the skills to use it, you also won’t have access to countless jobs and resources. As Tom Wheeler, former chair of the FCC, said in 2015, “The bottom line is this: If you are not connected to the internet…you cannot participate fully in our economy and our democracy.”

As of 2015, Detroit was the least connected city in America. Forty percent of Detroit’s households have no broadband connection and 70 percent of its school-age kids have no internet access at home (excluding smartphones).

For its size, Detroit is woefully under-connected. But rural areas and small metropolises often have it worse. According to a Brookings Institute report, almost one in four people in the United States lived in low subscription neighborhoods in 2015. Fewer than 40 percent of households subscribed to broadband internet.

Price is often an inhibiting factor. Detroit’s two main broadband providers, Comcast and AT&T, respectively, offer plans for their slowest connections at $25 for 12 months (and $50 afterwards) and $40 per month with a $99 installation fee.


Jobs for Felons: Navigating a Digital World After 40 Years in Prison




Ed Minor
Photo: Nick Hagen

Federal programs can lower the cost of these plans, but a study by the National Digital Inclusion Alliance (NDIA) showed that in Cleveland and Detroit, AT&T didn’t built out the infrastructure sufficiently to provide residents with high enough connection speeds to meet program guidelines. In other words, there’s a major correlation between plan availability and poverty.

The NDIA has described this as “digital redlining,” a reference to the practice that denied people of color access to housing, and which ran rampant in Detroit in the mid-1900s.

That’s in line with what Diana Nucera, director of the Detroit Community Technology Project, has witnessed. “Whether it’s artificial intelligence or internet access or healthcare,” she says, “the problems of the digital divide all stem from the same place: racism.”

I described Minor’s situation to Nucera and asked what she thought. “If he’s a victim of the digital divide, he’s also a victim of several other things before that,” she says. “It’s much more complicated than giving this gentleman a computer.”

Before Minor ever went to prison, understanding modern-day technology was the least of his concerns.

He came from a challenging home life. “My family were alcoholics,” he says. “I never met my mother’s side of the family. My father’s side was just drunks, dope fiends, dealing in corn liquor. My father was always jumping on my mother; my uncles were always jumping on their girlfriends.”
That contributed to his feeling aimless as a youth growing up on Detroit’s west side. “I didn’t know what to do with my life,” he says. “Didn’t want to do anything with my life.”
As for technology, his family didn’t even own a color TV.

“The problems of the digital divide all stem from the same place: racism.”





Minor was imprisoned once for seven months for breaking and entering. When he was released, he wanted to pay back a favor for a friend that helped him out while in prison. But the only way he knew how to get the money was to steal it. Planning to mug someone outside a nightclub, he says he brought an unloaded BB gun whereas his co-defendant, without telling him, brought a real gun.

According to Minor, his accomplice shot the person they were mugging, and after they were arrested, made a statement saying Minor committed the murder. Minor says he was pressured by his lawyer and the judge to plead guilty to second degree murder.
The sentence: life with parole.

Navigating a Digital World After 40 Years in Prison




Ed Minor checks the bus schedule on his phone.
Photo: Nick Hagen
Since getting out of prison, Minor has lived with his cousin in Southfield, an adjacent suburb of Detroit about 15 miles from downtown. On a normal day, Minor wakes up at around 11am, eats breakfast, and takes an hour and a half-long, two-bus transfer journey—with an undersized bicycle in tow—to either the WCCC campus or Detroit Public Library’s main branch. There he’ll do school work and develop his computer skills for several hours before heading to his job as a dishwasher at a nearby restaurant.

He often closes out, which means leaving work at around midnight and catching one of the last rapid buses heading north. At that time of night, the bus no longer runs for the last four-mile leg home, so he either bikes or walks depending on the weather. Once, the bus never came and his co-worker paid for a rideshare. He rarely gets into bed before 3am.

While at the downtown library, the person assisting him is often Keronce Sims, a computer technician. He teaches classes on computing basics, but his main job is helping patrons and employees troubleshoot computer issues. That means he’s often running from one request to the next all day long.

“What aren’t I responsible for?” Sims says with a laugh. “I’m one of three in the building…I’m putting out some matches, some candles, some fires.”

Local libraries are common destinations for people without computers or internet access. Detroit’s main branch has about 80 computers and there’s no time limit on how long someone can use one or, aside from games and X-rated content, what they can use them for.


In his 30 years at the library, Sims has seen all types of people use the computers for every conceivable reason: to apply for assistance, look for work, write a thesis, sue someone, or just to watch videos and go on Facebook.

Sometimes, according to Sims, people have panic attacks when trying to take care of a stressful matter using a machine they don’t understand. “I see it all the time,” he says. “I see a lot of impairments. Some are dyslexic, some are recovering from a physical injury or a stroke. Some are visually impaired. I’ve seen people with missing digits.”

Sims has been working with Minor since the summer and is encouraged by his effort. “Some people inquire about our services but don’t show up,” he says. “But [Minor] showed up. He knew nothing at first—the whole digital world was foreign to him.”


Navigating a Digital World After 40 Years in Prison




Keronce Sims helps Ed Minor navigate a computer at the Detroit Public Library.
Photo: Nick Hagen

In addition to having a felony on his record, little free time in his daily life, bad eyesight, hyperthyroidism, and no car, Minor also has very little money, and few people he can rely on besides his cousin. He’s also battling the type of culture shock that has nothing to do with the digital world. Simply going to the supermarket is a stressful experience that results in decision paralysis. “I stick to chocolate or vanilla ice cream and white socks,” he says.

As director of DCTP, Nucera oversees programs that foster use of technology based on community need. One of those programs is the Equitable Internet Initiative, which will provide 150 Detroit households with high-speed internet access. The program also involved training 25 local “digital stewards,” two of whom were in their late seventies, in hardware installation and WiFi setup. Age matters, but it’s not the primary barrier.

Minor has a passion for housing. After he’s done taking his prerequisites at WCCC, he’s planning to take classes on real estate. Despite everything he’s been through, he’s remarkably optimistic.
“Oh, it’s gonna get done,” he says. “Keep doing what I’m doing, don’t cry about it, move with it. I feel I’m on a mission.”

Sims and Nucera both think he has the capacity to overcome his technological difficulties.
“Clearly he’s extremely resilient,” Nucera says. “You don’t come out of prison after 40 years as an optimistic man without having a sense of self and being very intelligent. It’s not about his ability to learn. It’s about whether or not society can accept someone who’s been in prison for that long.”



Updated List of Companies that Hire Ex-offenders and Felons


Navigating a Digital World After 40 Years in Prison




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Eric Mayo

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Friday, April 6, 2018

Jobs for Felons: Target pays $3.7 million to settle lawsuit over racial disparity in use of criminal background checks

Claims of racial disparity in how criminal background checks are used led to $3.7M class-action settlement. 


Target pays $3.7 million to settle lawsuit over racial disparity in use of criminal background checks
By Kavita Kumar Star Tribune

Target Corp. has agreed to pay $3.7 million to settle a lawsuit over concerns that the way it uses criminal background checks as part of the hiring process has disproportionately hurt black and Latino applicants.

“Target’s background check policy was out of step with best practices and harmful to many qualified applicants who deserved a fair shot at a good job,” said Sherrilyn Ifill, president of the NAACP Legal Defense and Educational Fund, which worked on the case. “Criminal background information can be a legitimate tool for screening job applicants, but only when appropriately linked to relevant questions such as how long ago the offense occurred and whether it was a nonviolent or misdemeanor offense.”

As part of the settlement of the class-action complaint, independent consultants will recommend changes to Target’s current screening guidelines. For example, they will come up with a list of convictions that are not considered job-related and should not disqualify a person from a particular position. They will also review the company’s appeals process that offers candidates a chance to show evidence of rehabilitation.

“We’re glad to resolve this and move forward,” the Minneapolis-based retailer said in a
Target pays $3.7 million to settle lawsuit over racial disparity in use of criminal background checks
statement. “At Target, we have a number of measures in place to ensure we’re fair and equitable in our hiring practices. … And in hiring, like the rest of our business, we hold diversity and inclusion as core values and strive to give everyone access to the same opportunities.”

Maurice Emsellem, program director with advocacy group National Employment Law Project, said this is one of the largest settlements of its kind and will likely provide a model for other employers as they look to adopt better hiring practices and policies.

In 2016, the U.S. Census Bureau agreed to pay $15 million to settle a similar class-action suit that involved an estimated 450,000 black and Latino applicants who may have been passed over for jobs because of background-check practices.

“Employers are now way more tuned into the laws and policies that encourage them to create more fair practices to hire people with records,” Emsellem said. “But there’s still plenty of big employers and small employers who have a long way to go to clean up their policies.”

As part of the settlement, which was filed Thursday in U.S. District Court in New York, black and Latino applicants who were denied employment from a Target store because of a criminal-background check since May 2006 will be eligible for priority hiring or interviewing for current open positions. Alternately, they can seek a financial award of up to $1,000.

Target is also giving $600,000 to five organizations that work to help individuals with criminal backgrounds find employment: AccessAbility’s Career & Educational Pathways program and RS Eden in Minnesota, Center for Employment Opportunities and the Fortune Society in New York, and A New Way of Life Reentry Project in California.

In 2016, Target was among the companies that signed on to a White House pledge that encouraged employers to eliminate unnecessary barriers facing applicants with criminal records.

Like many major employers, Target started using criminal background checks as part of its hiring process more than a decade ago. The retailer, which employs about 345,000 workers and is among the nation’s largest employers, used to ask job applicants about their criminal history on the initial application form.

But as part of the so-called “Ban the Box” movement, critics complained that such screening at the outset made it difficult for ex-offenders to get jobs even if their offenses were from when they were young or were not pertinent to the positions for which they were applying.

In 2013, Minnesota passed a law barring private employers from asking about criminal history on application forms. The following year, Target removed that question from its applications nationwide.

“Now, we gather criminal background information in the final stages of the hiring process,” Target said in a statement. “This ensures individuals are considered for employment based on their qualifications, interview and availability.”

However, the company said it still believes it’s important to consider conviction history.

“Individuals are given an opportunity to explain their criminal history and provide information about the circumstances, mitigating factors, good conduct and rehabilitation,” the company said. “We exclude applicants whose criminal histories could pose a risk to our guests, team members or property, and design our process to treat all applicants fairly while maintaining a safe and secure working and shopping environment for team members and guests.”

According to the lawsuit, Target’s policies mandated automatic rejection of applicants for broad categories of misdemeanors and felonies such as violence, theft and controlled substances convictions within seven years of applying. If an application required further review, it was forwarded to Target’s human resources division, which used its discretion to make a final determination “rather than apply any objective or validated measures,” the complaint said.

Such a screening process imported “the racial and ethnic disparities that exist in the criminal justice system into the employment process, thereby multiplying the negative impact on African-American and Latino job applicants,” the lawsuit said, noting that those groups are arrested and incarcerated at rates much higher than whites.

The plaintiffs in the case included Carnella Times, a 47-year-old black woman who applied for an overnight stocker position at a Target store in Connecticut in 2006. She was disqualified because of two misdemeanor convictions from 10 years earlier. The following year, she filed a discrimination charge with the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, which issued her a right to sue in 2015 after years of investigation.


Another plaintiff was Erving Smith, a 40-year-old black man who applied for a stocker position at a store in Pittsburgh in 2014. He was denied the job because of a drug-related felony conviction from 2004.



Target pays $3.7 million to settle lawsuit over racial disparity in use of criminal background checks


Jobs for Felons: The Facts about Companies that Hire Ex offenders and Felons (2018)


Target pays $3.7 million to settle lawsuit over racial disparity in use of criminal background checks



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Eric Mayo

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