Second Chance

Written By ESR News Blog Editor Thomas Ahearn

On January 1, 2021, Georgia Senate Bill 288 (SB 288) took effect to give ex-offenders a chance to petition their sentencing court to restrict and seal the record of a misdemeanor offense four years after they have completed their sentence as long as they have not been convicted of a new offense and have no pending charges.

Signed into law by Georgia Governor Brian Kemp on August 5, 2020, SB 288 allows courts to decide whether or not to grant the petition by weighing the harm to the individual versus the need for the public to know about the conviction. Offenses such as sex crimes against children, family violence battery, and DUIs are excluded.

Under SB 288, employers in Georgia who hire ex-offenders who have had their criminal records restricted and sealed will be protected from a negligent hiring or retention claim in a civil proceeding so they may engage in the “second chance hiring” of a candidate who is the most qualified for the job without fear of liability.

The employability of ex-offenders returning to society “is a moral imperative and should be a central focal point of the criminal justice reform agenda,” according to a report titled “A better path forward for criminal justice: Training and employment for correctional populations” by the Brookings-AEI Working Group on Criminal Justice Reform.

The report by Grant Duwe, Research Director – Minnesota Department of Corrections, Adjunct Scholar – American Enterprise Institute, and Makada Henry-Nickie, Fellow – Governance Studies, found “access to legal employment is key to reducing recidivism and the post-prison social disabilities that returning citizens endure.”

The report – the sixth chapter from “A Better Path Forward for Criminal Justice” – found that “increasing access to quality academic education and occupational skills-based training that builds a skill base to meet the needs of the current labor market will significantly increase access to sustainable post-prison employment opportunities.”

Second chance programs and reentry laws that help allow ex-offenders with a prior criminal record to have an opportunity to find work will continue to evolve, according to the “ESR Top Ten Background Check Trends” for 2021 compiled by leading global background check provider Employment Screening Resources® (ESR).

Attorney Lester Rosen, ESR founder and chief executive officer (CEO), wrote the article “Starting a First Chance Movement is Critical to the Success of the Second Chance Movement” about how a First Chance movement should impact factors that lead a person to the criminal justice system and incarceration in the first place.

“Rather than ask employers to bear the brunt of the burden to provide employment opportunities for former offenders, the entire country should focus on providing a means to deflect people away from the criminal justice system in the first place,” wrote Rosen, the author of “The Safe Hiring Manual,” a guide to background checks.

Employment Screening Resources® (ESR) – which was named the #1 screening firm in 2020 by HRO Today – offers a white paper on “Ten Critical Steps for Ex-Offenders to Get Back into the Workforce,” an “ESR Ban the Box Resource Guide,” and a Ban the Box Resource Page. To learn more about ESR, visit www.esrcheck.com.

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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