The mark of a criminal record does more than marginalize the ex-offender, it creates added costs for the community. When we create policies within our state that increase collateral consequences for many ex-offenders, we concurrently increase the costs to the tax-payer.
More intensive effort is needed to negotiate the added barriers imposed upon ex-offenders, especially as it relates to returning this population back to work. These increased efforts require more time and money, but in addition to this, the longer an ex-offender is without employment, the more likely he or she will re-offend – which continues to add to our costs both in a social and fiscal sense.
The unemployment rate for ex-offenders after one year of being released from confinement hovers around 60 percent. This was a statistic which characterized this population before the economic crisis.
In this extremely difficult economic climate it becomes imperative we create policies that mitigate these pronounced effects on the employment prospects for ex-offenders.
It would be a great assist to this population of workers and to our community if a three-year reporting limit would be imposed upon consumer reporting agencies by revising RCW 19.182.040.
Currently consumer reporting agencies are allowed to report arrests and convictions of up to seven years in Washington state. Considerable research over the past 20 years provides supporting evidence that if an ex-offender has not re-offended within a three-year period, their likelihood of recidivating decreases substantially. It is within this context in which a policy change should occur.