BLACK MALE UNEMPLOYMENT FORUM 2:
ACCEPTANCE AND ACCOUNTABLILTY FOR EX-OFFENDERS IN OUR COMMUNITIES
Abstract: Ex-felons face difficult challenges when entering our communities. African-American men with a prison conviction face even more difficulty finding employment. After serving their sentences, the challenges of finding housing, employment, and places where they are welcome are often extremely difficult. The purpose of this forum is to identify resources that can help create and improve employment opportunities for black men when they return to our communities from prison.
I. Personal Development
A. Each year 650,000+ ex-offenders leave prison for the free world. Facing a rough road ahead, two-thirds return to prison within three years. Their re-entry is fraught with problems that lead to rejections, disappointments, and temptations. Various resources address the psychological and practical day-to-day challenges facing ex-offenders.
Question: What are some practical steps that an ex-felon can take to be gainfully employed?
B. Ex-felons have a much lower rate of recidivating when they are released to stable living environment and caring families. Without these two safety nets most ex-felons are DOA-Doomed on Arrival. Ex-felons who are released from prison and acquire gainful employment, have the support of their love ones, and are connected to a higher power are much more likely to stay out of prison longer and in many cases never return.
Question: How can ex-felons reduce the risk of returning to prison?
C. For the ex-offenders, the ability to find and keep employment is essential to their successful transition from incarceration to a life of freedom. Many return without jobs or stable homes. Most return without the necessary knowledge and resources to find and keep a job. Although several thousands of dollars are spent each year in pre-release education classes, these classes are often uneven in quality and design and ex-offenders are often forced to wade through a litany of conflicting information as they try to find employment. Libraries are filled with books, journal articles, and reports about the ex-offender. But, unfortunately, very little information is addressed directly to ex-offenders in an attempt to offer them the tools, resources, and knowledge that are essential for their success. If we are to assist these ex-offenders to become productive members of society, it will be necessary to take a multi-faceted approach to address the issues associated with successful re-entry. All who are involved with any and all aspects of the prisoner re-entry process will benefit from the practical information contained in this book. This includes ex-offenders, prison and jail re-entry programs, agencies that specialize in prison re-entry, juvenile detention centers, probation offices, social services agencies and other government agencies.
Question: How optimistic can ex-felons be about finding gainful employment in Greenville?
II. Community Development
A. Challenges with Background checks: Does your company use criminal background checks to weed out job applicants? Many do, and some are required by law to conduct background checks for certain jobs.
For example, the U.S. Patriot Act requires truck drivers with commercial driver’s licenses to undergo criminal background investigations to earn a hazardous materials endorsement.
And many employers routinely perform them because they are concerned about violent behavior, theft and other potential threats. If an employee commits a violent act and no background check was conducted, the employer could be liable for damages under a “negligent hiring” claim.
But existence of a prior arrest alone doesn’t give you the right to turn down an applicant. Recent litigation has held that using arrest and conviction records to deny employment is illegal if not relevant to the position. Such a blanket policy can limit job opportunities for minorities who have higher arrest and conviction rates.
Your policy on criminal background checks must be fine-tuned to withstand potential challenges. Work hand-in-hand with an attorney or HR advisor to establish a policy that meets your needs and complies with applicable laws.
Question: What policy changes are needed to create a ex-offender friendly workforce?
B. As of June 30, 2008, African American males account for 62.4% or 15,638 of the 25,066 inmates in Department of Corrections Facilities statewide.
However, African American males between the ages of 17 and 44 years of age accounted for 82.0% or 12,823 of the 15,638 African American male incarcerated adults in SC Department of Corrections facilities.
Question: What can African-American leaders do to reduce the incarceration rates in the African-American community?
BLACK MALE UNEMPLOYMENT FORUM 2 MAY 16, 2013
May 16, 2013May 16, 2013 | | 3 Comments | 11:13 pm