The Washington Post

Report finds overwhelming unemployment among formerly incarcerated

It’s common knowledge that the job hunt is rough for those who have been incarcerated. But a new report by the Council for Court Excellence, a District nonprofit, nonpartisan civic organization, paints a pretty bleak picture on how hard the continuing poor economy has hit those who have criminal records.

Barbed wire at Maryland Correctional Training Center in Hagerstown, Md. (Photo by Whitney Shefte/The Washington Post.) (Whitney Shefte/WASHINGTON POST)

The report found that 77 percent received no assistance from “anyone at the facility” in helping them look for a job and that “just 50 percent of those who received an education or training certificate while they were incarcerated said it helped them find work after their release.”

“Joblessness among the previously incarcerated is exacerbating overall employment problems and threatening the long-term economic health and security of our neighborhoods,” the report asserts. “A steady flow of individuals into our communities who are short on skills and face barriers to getting a job is likely to create unemployment challenges for years to come.”

The report found that a vast majority of these respondents - 80 percent- were asked about their criminal backgrounds. There are an estimated 60,000 people in the District who have criminal records, according to the report, and about 8,000 of them return to the city each year after serving sentences in prison or jail. After just three years, the report found, 4,000 will be back behind bars.

Here’s a link to the report:

Among the proposed solutions:

* The District should adopt liability protection for employers who hire previously incarcerated people. “This would help minimize the risk of negligent hiring lawsuits when businesses employ those with a criminal record,” the report said.

* The DC criminal justice system should develop a “certificate of good standing” program to promote licensing and hiring of previously incarcerated persons. The report argues that such a program could help employers feel better about hiring formerly incarcerated men and women because if might “increase employer comfort level when considering whether to hire a previously incarcerated person.”

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