For Immediate Release: Wednesday, November 17, 2021
Contact on behalf of Alliance for Safety and Justice: [email protected]
Public Safety, Business & Civil Rights Organizations Urge Biden Administration to Ensure Tens of Millions of Americans with Old Criminal Records Can Earn Jobs Created by Infrastructure Bill
More than two dozen organizations, including Alliance for Safety and Justice, Cure Violence and National Urban League, send letter on how bill’s implementation can best advance economy and public safety
U.S. economy loses $78 billion each year due to employment barriers for people with old records; letter outlines how to avoid compounding that missed opportunity
WASHINGTON, D.C. – Public safety, business, and civil rights leaders released a letter today urging the Biden Administration to ensure that the tens of millions of Americans with old criminal records are able to participate in the employment opportunities created by the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act. The letter, organized by Alliance for Safety and Justice, outlines steps that the Administration can take to guarantee that people with past records can earn jobs created by the legislation as a way to maximize its economic and public safety impacts. Over two dozen organizations signed the letter: they include criminal justice organizations, crime victim groups like the National Alliance of Trauma Recovery Centers, and violence prevention programs such as Cure Violence, as well as civil rights organizations, including the National Urban League.
“Far too many people with old records are in a vicious cycle of post-conviction poverty long after they’ve served their time, perpetuated by misguided public policies,” said Jay Jordan, vice president of Alliance for Safety and Justice and national director of the organization’s #TimeDone program, which organizes people with old records to access economic opportunities. “The Biden Administration has an opportunity to break that cycle and maximize the economic benefit of the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act by ensuring its employment opportunities are inclusive of the tens of millions of Americans with past records. People with old records are our family members and neighbors — many are years removed from the justice system and paid their debts to society, so it’s in our best interest for them to participate in the labor force.”
In the letter, the organizations urge the Biden Administration to:
- Require that all federal agencies receiving funding from the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act ensure that individuals living with old conviction records are able to access jobs created by the bipartisan infrastructure framework’s programs and funding
- Aligned with President Obama’s directive and EEOC enforcement guidance, ensure that all contractors and subcontractors hired using funding from this legislation are following federal nondiscrimination laws for employees based on their criminal records
- Specifically address the barrier of occupational licensing, which for too long has kept individuals with convictions away from good-paying jobs
- Create incentives for contractors and subcontractors to hire individuals with convictions
- Widely publicize the Work Opportunity Tax Credit to companies that receive funding from the infrastructure bill
Nearly 80 million Americans are living with an old criminal record, approximately 90 percent of whom are no longer incarcerated or under any form of community supervision, such as parole or probation. According to a survey by Alliance for Safety and Justice, 69 percent of people with a past felony record have difficulty finding a job. As a result, more than 27 percent of people with old records are unemployed – far higher than the national unemployment rate of 4.6 percent. Data analysis indicates that nearly half of U.S. children — between 33 million and 36.5 million children — now have at least one parent living with a past record.
Ensuring that people living with a past record have equal access to job opportunities not only provides benefits to the individual, their families, and communities, but the American economy as a whole. The nation’s economy currently loses at least $78 billion dollars each year because of employment barriers from an old felony record. At a time when employers across the country are facing severe labor shortages and more jobs will be created, people living with old records can boost the labor force. The Biden Administration and Congress have an opportunity to address this economic gap.
To view the full letter, click here.
ABOUT THE ALLIANCE FOR SAFETY AND JUSTICE
Alliance for Safety and Justice (ASJ) is a national advocacy organization that aims to replace ineffective criminal justice system policies with what works to keep people safe. We represent diverse crime survivors as well as people living with old records as key public safety stakeholders. ASJ brings our members together with state leaders and coalition partners to win reforms that stop cycles of crime, reduce costly incarceration, and make communities safer. We support a range of “shared safety” reforms, including crime prevention, community health, rehabilitation, economic mobility, and trauma recovery. For more information, visit: https://allianceforsafetyandjustice.org.
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