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Reentry and unemployment

People who have a criminal conviction today face considerable barriers upon their release from prison or jail. Many face legal or policy hurdles when seeking housing, securing loans, or obtaining employment. Many also face the additional challenges of drug addiction and mental or physical health concerns and obtaining the appropriate services to address them.

In the nation and in the District of Columbia - where an estimated 60,000 people have criminal records and nearly half may be jobless - employment is especially critical to a previously incarcerated person's chances of success. Our community can be safer, more stable, and more economically productive, in part, if previously incarcerated persons are able to secure employment.

CCE is promoting low-cost and rational policy and legislative solutions to addressing legal and policy barriers to employment for previously incarcerated persons. Unlocking Employment Opportunity for Previously Incarcerated Persons in the District of Columbia presents these solutions based on  CCE's survey findings of employers, previously incarcerated persons, and best legislative practices in other states.

LEGISLATIVE UPDATE: The Reentry Facilitation Amendment Act of 2012 became law on June 15, 2013. The law will:

  • Make further changes to the existing law that permits people to seal certain low-level, non-violent misdemeanor convictions and arrest records that do not result in a conviction, such as reducing the amount of time a person must wait to seal eligible convictions;
  • Address employer liability concerns about hiring a person with a criminal record by offering a method that would ban the revelation of the employee's criminal record in a civil negligent hiring lawsuit; and
  • Establish a certificate of good standing program, available to persons with a criminal conviction upon completion of their sentence, probation or community supervision.

Read CCE's November 18, 2011 testimony to the DC Council on the subject of reentry and unemployment.

In its 2005 report, Creating an Expungement Statute for the District of Columbia, CCE promoted the passage of the DC Criminal Record Sealing Act of 2006, which offers a way to seal certain low-level, non-violent criminal arrest and conviction records from public view after a waiting period and judicial determination. The Act also provides for sealing of records based on actual innocence. 

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