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State Reforms Promoting Employment of People with Criminal Records: 2010-11 Legislative Round-Up

December 01, 2011
This report highlights laws enacted in 2010 and 2011, reports on state trends of concern, and aims to support policymakers and advocates heading into the 2012 state legislative sessions. The report is a collaboration of The Sentencing Project, the National Employment Law Project, and the National H.I.R.E. Network.

The severe economic climate facing the states has fueled a growing recognition of the need for cost-saving alternatives to incarceration. This paper seeks to contribute to this momentum for state-level reform by identifying policies that reduce the employment barriers faced by people with criminal records. As policymakers and advocates evaluate opportunities for reform heading into the 2012 state legislative sessions, the bills highlighted here, which seek to reduce crime and reward rehabilitation, warrant close attention.

People with criminal records now confront unprecedented employment challenges that are not solely the result of a weak labor market. States, for example, have collectively adopted more than 30,000 laws that significantly restrict access to employment and other basic rights and benefits for people with criminal records, according to an exhaustive analysis by the American Bar Association. Recognizing that many such barriers fail to increase public safety, U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder urged states to evaluate and remove laws that prevent people from living and working productively.

The inspiring work of state policy makers and advocates across the country has led to new model policies that allow qualified people with criminal records to compete more fairly for employment. This paper highlights these laws enacted in 2010 and 2011 and reports on state trends of concern that broadly restrict employment based on a criminal record.

To read the report, download the PDF below.

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