Week 5: A Community Issue – Detroit Community-Engaged Research Program

Week 5: A Community Issue

‘Out of Trouble, but Criminal Records Keep Men Out of work’ http://www.nytimes.com/2015/03/01/business/out-of-trouble-but-criminal-records-keep-men-out-of-work.html

This article relates to an issue that is very impactful on many jobseekers in Detroit and around the country. It speaks about the difficulty that people with criminal records face when looking for a job. They face systematic disfranchisement from the workforce pool. Firstly, the government has been more aggressive with its law enforcement on minor crimes. Secondly, employers have been ramping up background checks and refusing to hire applicants with any kind of criminal record. During my time at Focus: HOPE, I have heard many complain that too many people are being disempowered because employers are refusing to hire competent applicants with a criminal record.

These kind of unnecessary rigidity in employment practices can ground social mobility. Someone who was incarcerated because of a crime long time ago and is refused the right to work will be unable to provide for himself and others.

The article contains some good news too. A campaign called “Ban the Box,” (referring to the box on job applications that ask whether an applicant has a criminal record) has been gaining momentum. At work, I have heard a victory story where Meijer was forced to drop the policy of refusing to hire former felons in the Meijer at 8 Mile.

lsa logoum logo