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JOBS: Ex-offenders getting back to work

Letter by Preston Anderson, Tacoma on Nov. 22, 2011 at 4:46 pm with 18 Comments »
November 22, 2011 4:46 pm

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.

Leave a comment Comments → 18
  1. olympicmtn says:

    Maybe the board president for the school district can do a better job of making sure non-profts stop hiring sex offenders to work with kids in the schools like they have in past years!

  2. as someone who got a possession of maryjane charge years ago, and thus cannot get financial aide so that i can better my prospects..thanks alot

  3. Soundlife says:

    So you are suggesting we expunge their records so they can get jobs as caregivers or work in our schools??????

  4. cclngthr says:

    Offenders have to realize their actions can affect future housing/employment activities. It is their problem that they haven’t figured out that what they did can affect their working situation.

    I have a older brother that was told he could not live where he used to, because of a conviction. My other brother is also realizing his federal conviction is affecting his work. If my older brother was still alive, he would not be allowed at my house because of his past conviction.

  5. Preston Anderson, of Tacoma here’s an Idea how bout you investing in a few apartment complexes and start a major company so you can be there hero. Better yet let them live in your place. Let me guess you among those who refuse to sign the 1 strike against sex offenders initiative.

  6. Dave98373 says:

    Are you proposing to reward bad behavior by letting convicted criminals have their records expunged early so they can be like the rest of us law abiding citizens that have worked hard all throughout life by following the rules? Amazing.

  7. harleyrider1 says:

    C’mon Preston… you’re from Seattle, aren’t you?

  8. Preston, I have just one comment regarding all you have written in your letter. It is this…

    In this extremely difficult economic climate it becomes imperative we create policies that mitigate these pronounced effects on the employment prospects for LAW ABIDING CITIZENS FIRST BEFORE WE MAKE ANY SPECIAL ARRANGEMENTS FOR ex-offenders.

  9. commoncents says:

    ummmm the poster is talking about requiring a maximium reporting period on consumer reporting agencies and says absolutely nothing about expunging criminal records.

  10. Okay commoncents, to your point I ask this question:

    Why should a convicted criminal have his record expunged after only three (3) years, when a law-abiding citizen who had to file bankruptcy doesn’t get that dropped from his/her financial history for at least seven (7) years?

  11. commoncents says:

    muckibr – I would answer that with the stat that the poster indicated – recidivism decreases after 3 years…isn’t that the whole point of the consumer reports? To indicate likelihood of reoccurance? Now, I say that without knowing the likelihood of repeat bankruptcy filing…

    I’m not necesarily in favor of what the poster is proposing. However, it does have some merit if the point is to reintegrate with society AND reduce recidivism which I think everyone would agree is a good thing.

    Now, I would pose to you…why should the report contain arrest records at all? Right now if you are arrested for something and not convicted – it’s still reported. How fair is that? The process is flawed. I’m not familiar enough with it to decree what is or isn’t the right approach but it should be discussed.

  12. cclngthr says:

    Any arrest record remains on file for life through FBI records. That is what it should be. Once arrested, that is a signal that the person is not always what they claim to be (changed). They might return to that old behavior.

    Consumer reports can also show how a person pays their bills, but at the same time, other people can use their identity to show wrong information.

    Both issues may include wrong information, but wrongful arrests are harder to keep on record than wrongful consumer reports.

  13. commoncents says:

    I am not talking about arrest records held by law enforcement agencies. I am talking about consumer reports (background checks) that are available to employers that contain arrest records regardless of outcome. And no, an arrest doesn’t signify that the person has changed. There are plenty of instances where the arrest was not warranted and charges were immediately dropped or never even filed. If they got the wrong guy/gal and they did nothing wrong then why should a mark be on his/her file? You do realize that it’s very easy to have someone arrested right?

    Whole point of the convo is to find a way to integrate those folks back into society to become productive contributors. I’m just saying that if the process is obviously flawed (and it is) then perhaps some time can be spent re-evaluating it.

  14. commoncents, I am not sure about criminal records being a part of a consumer report record, or credit history. I may be wrong, but I don’t think they merge non-financial criminal info into credit records.

    However, I am somewhat familiar with BI and NAC background checks for military security clearances done by the DoD and DISCO. (BI – Background Investigation, NAC – National Agency Check, DoD – Department of Defense, DISCO – Defense Industrial Security Clearance Organization)

    BI may include financial as well as personal history checks, and my involve looking into local criminal records as well as interviewing known associates and family of the person being investigated. The NAC will basically check any military or government service records, and of course a thorough check of your IRS and FBI files.

    As I said, I don’t believe that criminal history is ever included in an individual’s financial history or Credit Reports, which is what Preston Anderson seems to allude to. That would be one of the few record sources where information could be dropped off after a certain period of time.

    Unfortunately for the former criminal, records of criminal history are very rarely if ever deleted from a persons criminal record or FBI file, unless they are for juveniles reaching the age of majority, or specific records are ordered by the courts to be removed due to say a reversal of a conviction or something similar.

    Three years, or thirty years doesn’t usually matter. When a person commits a crime, is convicted, sentenced and serves time, I don’t care how much of a model citizen they have turned themselves into after that, there will almost always be a criminal record that will be available in the case of a BI or NAC check. Personally, I do not see any good reason to change that policy. I disagree with Preston about wiping the record clean after three years. And I say that while having an ex-con as a close relative in my own family.

    Credit records are different, and things should automatically drop off after 6-7 years of good financial behavior.

  15. cclngthr says:

    Credit reports do not include any criminal activity. All it has is financial history from the last 7 years, including collections and bankruptcies.

    A criminal record is any court case over the lifetime of that person, including arrests made in that lifetime, including juvenile arrests. I know this because when I was in process of getting my certification for teaching, one thing the state professional practices director told us (in class) that if you were arrested, you must put yes on that form, including juvenile arrests, and you must include documentation of that arrest. An FBI, WSP check is different from a financial check. When I got my CPL 2 years ago, I also was told by LESA that arrest records are a lifetime thing; and I also have family members who have spent time in prison.

    Apartment rental screening includes both WSP and financial credit histories. The company my apartment complex uses has to go through multiple agencies to get both criminal and credit history records.

  16. itwasntmethistime says:

    Criminal activity doesn’t show up on a credit report, it shows up on a background report. Employers and property managers pull both.

    Where will they work? Where will they live? Don’t know, but I guess they should have thought of that before.

  17. commoncents says:

    If you’ll actually read rcw 19.182.040 you will see that it specifically refers to consumer reports and has no bearing on what can/will show up on an FBI report. I am in firm agreement that a criminal record should be maintained within the LE community in perpetuity. However, we are specifically talking about (as is the original poster since he specifically referenced the RCW and the entire topic is about employment) is the background checks done by an employer. Currently the law limits the listing of any “records of arrest, indictment, or conviction of an adult for a crime that, from date of disposition, release, or parole, antedate the report by more than seven years”.

    Why was that seven year figure used? arbitrary? who knows…but it is known that recidivism declines significantly after 3 years of clean behavior. Isn’t that the point of the report? To help the consumer to determine the likelihood of reoffending? Shouldn’t that time period be more in alignment with actual recidivism rates?

    Also, as I said earlier…why should the arrest record be included at all? Shouldn’t conviction be the only thing that matters? Are we a country that looks to punish those that aren’t guilty of a crime at all.

  18. itwasntmethistime says:

    commoncents — If you don’t want your life to be scrutinized by a possible employer or landlord, don’t do things that land you on the naughty list.

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