Report Finds Criminal Records Can Create Obstacles for Ex-Offenders in California

Second Chance

Written By ESR News Blog Editor Thomas Ahearn

Nearly eight in ten Californians with a criminal conviction have experienced barriers to success after serving time and an estimated 8 million Californians – or 1 in 5 people in the state – are subject to over 4,800 restrictions imposed on ex-offenders, according to a report entitled “Repairing the Road to Redemption in California” compiled by the criminal justice nonprofit Californians for Safety and Justice (CSJ).

The report surveyed more than 2,000 people with criminal records that ranged from minor drug busts to more serious crimes such as robbery and found that five in ten ex-offenders had difficulty finding a job, four in ten ex-offenders had difficulty obtaining occupational licenses, two in ten ex-offenders had trouble finding housing, and five in ten ex-offenders struggled to pay their criminal fines and fees.

The report recommended “purging” of stale arrests or criminal history information, consolidating the expungement process, reducing barriers to obtaining occupational licenses, extending funding for workforce development agencies, reducing immigration consequences through expungement, reducing criminal justice debt, and advancing criminal justice reforms that prioritize reducing the cycle of crime.

Finding work after serving jail time is difficult for ex-offenders. In July 2018, ESR News reported the unemployment rate for ex-offenders was calculated to be 27 percent, meaning that more than one out of four people who served time in prison and who were now looking for work could not find a job, according to the report “Out of Prison & Out of Work” released by the Prison Policy Initiative.

The 27 percent ex-offender unemployment rate found in the report even surpasses the 25 percent unemployment rate that all Americans experienced during the height of the Great Depression in the 1930s. Among working-age individuals aged 25-44 years, the report found the unemployment rate for ex-offenders was 27.3 percent compared with just 5.2 percent unemployment for the general public.

Attorney Lester Rosen, founder and chief executive officer (CEO) of global background check firm Employment Screening Resources® (ESR), has written an article entitled “Frequently Asked Question by Job Applicants: Should I Let a Potential Employer Know Upfront if I have a Criminal Record?” to help ex-offenders seeking work know if they should let employers know upfront if they have a criminal record.

“The answer is actually a bit complicated. For an applicant with a criminal record, whether or not to say anything and when is a real ‘Catch-22.’ If you do not mention a criminal record and the employer finds out about it on their own, the concern is that they will treat you as a dishonest person and not consider you for employment,” writes Rosen, author of ‘The Safe Hiring Manual,’ a guide to background checks.

Conversely, Rosen explains that if ex-offenders follow the “honesty is the best policy” approach and self-report a criminal record, the concern is that employers will still not hire them because of the criminal record and they will not even have the chance to show they can perform the job. In the article, Rosen tells ex-offenders about several options they should consider first before making any decision.

ESR White Paper for Ex-Offenders Looking for Work

Employment Screening Resources® (ESR) offers a complimentary white paper entitled “Ten Critical Steps for Ex-Offenders to Get Back into the Workforce” to help job applicants with criminal records avoid the situation where they risk not finding a job if they tell the truth about their pasts. The white paper is at www.esrcheck.com/Tools-Resources/Whitepaper-Library/Ten-Steps-for-Ex-Offenders-to-Get-Back-in-Workforce/.

NOTE: Employment Screening Resources® (ESR) does not provide or offer legal services or legal advice of any kind or nature. Any information on this website is for educational purposes only.

© 2018 Employment Screening Resources® (ESR) – Making copies or using of any part of the ESR News Blog or ESR website for any purpose other than your own personal use is prohibited unless written authorization is first obtained from ESR.