A new report from the UCLA Labor Center with the snappy title of “Get To Work or Go To Jail” describes how the criminal justice system may compromise employment opportunities in more ways than one, placing workers on community supervision or in debt at the mercy of employers. Noah Zatz of the UCLA Law faculty, one of the report’s co-authors, summarizes the report’s conclusions as follows:
When many people consider work and the criminal justice system, they commonly focus on how difficult it is for people coming out of jail to find work. “Get to Work or Go To Jail: Workplace Rights Under Threat” goes further by exploring how the criminal justice system can also lock workers into bad jobs. Workers on probation or parole, facing criminal justice debt, or owing child support face a disturbing threat: get to work or go to jail. Because these workers face incarceration for being unemployed, the report finds that they cannot afford to refuse a job, quit a job, or to challenge their employers- and they can even be forced to work for free. This report identifies how the criminal justice system endows employers with this power.