Should a criminal record ruin a career?

logoThe Atlantic has published an excellent article about the permanently disabling effects of a criminal record, by two attorneys at the East Bay Community Law Center (Oakland, CA), Sarah Crowley and Alex Bender (an Equal Justice Works AmeriCorps Fellow).  Haunted by the Past: A Criminal Record Shouldn’t Ruin a Career, March 25, 2015.  The authors argue, based on their experiences in their practice, that “too many applicants, particularly people of color, are being denied jobs based on background checks that are irrelevant or even inaccurate.”   They describe the sources of inaccuracy and other unreliability in criminal background checks, even ones based on fingerprinting.  But then they focus on the real problem, which is that over-reliance on background checks “inevitably screens out qualified, trustworthy job applicants.”

They tell the story of one woman whose dated misdemeanor convictions deprived a California group home of a valuable employee:  Read more

Clean slate remedies help overcome collateral consequences

Eliza Hersh, director of the Clean Slate Clinic at the East Bay Community Law Center and one of CCRC’s contributing authors, has co-authored a most persuasive op ed in the LA Times, which we are pleased to reprint here in full.  

Should a shoplifting conviction be an indelible 1016829040562382727EwjStKwcscarlet letter? Not in California

What exactly is the appropriate punishment for someone who commits a low-level, nonviolent crime? Should a conviction for minor drug possession, shoplifting or writing a bad check result in a lifetime of stigma and denied opportunities, or do people with criminal records deserve a second chance?

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