Ex-Convicts Need Second Chances Too

Abby Perry | November 19, 2016

I recently accompanied my friend, Cassie, to our local Workforce Commission. I stayed in the lobby while Cassie entered a room full of computers where dozens sat filling out job applications.

There was desperation in the air.

Before resorting to the Workforce Commission’s computer room, Cassie spent weeks visiting local establishments, applying for jobs, and interviewing. Two locations with “Now Hiring” signs in their windows promised callbacks. When they didn’t call, though, Cassie did. They told her they were in a hiring freeze, but their windows told a different story. (The “Now Hiring” signs are still hanging.)

Cassie knows the reason for the “hiring freezes.” Her background check came back with an old stain from years past that refuses to stop spreading—a conviction for signing her sister’s name on a traffic ticket.

In his book Can We Close the Revolving Door? Recidivism vs. Employment of Ex-Offenders in the U.S., Harvard economist Richard Freeman shares a study that “asked employers in four major cities if they would accept an applicant with a criminal record. Just 12.5 percent of employers said they would definitely accept such an application, and 25.9 percent said they probably would.”

Most, though, said they would not.

Not everyone who fills out applications at the…

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