Written By ESR News Blog Editor Thomas Ahearn
On November 6, 2018, Florida voters approved Amendment 4 with almost 65 percent of the vote – the measure needed at least 60 percent to become law – allowing approximately 1.2 million convicted ex-offenders in the state to automatically have their voting rights restored, according to The Miami Herald.
The Herald reports the measure – which needed more than 800,000 signatures to qualify for the 2018 ballot – restores voting rights to ex-offenders who “have had to wait five years after completing their sentence to even apply to have their voting rights restored” in the previous seven years.
‘Amendment 4, Voting Rights Restoration for Felons Initiative (2018)’ will reform Florida’s “notoriously strict restoration process” and end its “outlier status as the state with the most people permanently barred from voting — only two other states ban felons from the polls for life,” The Herald reports.
“Amendment 4 restores the right to vote to convicted felons who have completed all terms of their sentences, including probation and restitution, but excludes those who are convicted of murder or sex crimes,” The Herald reports, adding felons need voting rights restored by the state clemency board.
“Under the current process, felons must appeal to the state clemency board for a hearing. The board meets four times a year. The current process can take more than 10 years to complete and because of the restrictive laws, Florida once barred more former felons than any other state,” The Herald reports.
Ex-offenders face many hurdles after leaving prison, one of which is finding a job. In July 2018, the Prison Policy Initiative released a report entitled “Out of Prison & Out of Work” that calculated the unemployment rate for ex-offenders to be 27 percent, meaning one out of four felons can’t find work.
The 27 percent ex-offender unemployment rate surpasses the 25 percent unemployment rate that all Americans experienced during the height of the Great Depression in the 1930s and is striking given that the report revealed ex-offenders are more likely to want to find work than the average American.
Employment Screening Resources® (ESR), a background check firm in the San Francisco, California area – “helps employers navigate the complex regulations around compliance and privacy laws, while providing resources and advocacy in helping ex-offenders find work,” according to a blog on BadCredit.org.
Dawn Standerwick – Vice President of Strategic Growth at ESR who brings 26 years of experience in workforce screening solutions – was interviewed by BadCredit.org and told them about ESR’s ongoing efforts to help ex-offenders rejoin the workforce and become contributors to society.
“There have been a lot of laws passed that are intended to help ex-offenders re-enter the workforce,” Standerwick said, adding that ESR helps ensure employers comply with the legal protections afforded ex-offenders while also providing comprehensive screening services that help keep workplaces safe.
Attorney Lester Rosen, ESR’s founder and chief executive officer (CEO), 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 show ex-offenders how to let employers know that they have a criminal record.
Rosen, the author of ‘The Safe Hiring Manual,’ wrote that “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.”
Rosen also 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 the knowledge, skills, and abilities to perform the job.
ESR Offers Resources for Ex-Offenders Seeking Work
Employment Screening Resources® (ESR) – a leading global background check firm – offers ex-offenders looking for work an Ex-Offender Resources Page that includes a whitepaper on how ex-offenders can find a job. To learn more, visit www.esrcheck.com/Applicant-Support-Center/Ex-Offender-Resources/.
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.
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