- Arts & Lifestyle
- Special Sections
- Community Directory
- Ticket Offers
State should set fair hring practices for ex-offenders seeking a second chance
What are the collateral consequences of such large-scale incaceration? In terms of employment access we know, from a burgeoning body of research, that record of criminal justice contact erects substantial barriers. We also know that there is a disparate impact upon communities of color, particularly upon African Americans and Native Americans in the state of MInnesota. The widespread accessibility of criminal justice systems information to employers continues to penalize those who have been convicted of felony as well as misdemeanor charges. Long after a person serves out a sentence, long after rehabilitation has occured, the mark of a criminal record endures--impeding housing and employment access.
The BCA's (Bureau of Criminal Apprehension) maintains online data, publicly accessible, on felony and bross misdemeanor convictions for a period of 15 years. Paying a $6 fee allows access to the DPS-BCA Web site, which maintains all criminal justice contact records for a period of 40 years. The County Sheriff's Daily Jail Roster and such systems as Hennepin County's SIP (Subject in Process) system permit local access to arrest records for all offenses.
The net result of this widespread access is that many people who have been arrested or cited--whether they have been convicted or not--experience great obstancles in finding a decent job or decent housing. This is a national phenomenon
of growing magnitude.
The Council on Crime and Justice, in collaboration with many community organizations, is seeking to introduce resolutions before both the Minneapolis and St. Paul City Councils that would seek to call attention to Chapter 364 of the Minnesota State Statutes. Chapter 364 accords protections against discriminatory practice for ex-offenders who are seeking public employment. "Banning the Box" would foster a friendlier enviroment for ex-offenders who have rehabilitated and who are seeking a second chance.
Our prison population in Minnnesota has grown by 45 percent in the past five years. We hire more police, build more and more jails, but our recidivism rate stands at nearly 40 percent. At what point do we, as a city, as a society, try something
different---after nearly 30 years of relentless incarceration of large numbers
The MNDOC budget for 2005 was $456 million. Crime spirals out of control, despite policies of increased arrest and incarceration. Geographic hot-spots deteriorate yearly, as we see on our North Side. At what point do we entertain other options? Supporting the hiring of rehabilitated ex-offenders, based on research and common sense, would seem one way to enhance our public safety.
© 2006 Guy Gambil