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Presidential Memorandum: Barriers to Reentry

Pre-Check feels that it is important for employers to be aware of the recent actions of the White House to address the barriers of reentry for those who have been incarcerated.  The objective is to provide a second chance for jobs for those who show evidence of rehabilitation.  As we have expressed in previous blogs, there are tens of millions of ex-offenders in America, and if they cannot find jobs, they will have to seek other alternatives for economic advancement.  The article below is from the National Association of Professional Background Screeners.  It succinctly summarizes what is happening on a federal level.

Presidential Memorandum

Brought to you by NAPBS’ Government Relations and NAPBS Partner Akin Gump

NAPBS Members,

On April 29 the White House unveiled a series of initiatives the Obama Administration has undertaken to reform the federal approach to reentry by “addressing barriers to reentry, supporting state and local efforts to do the same, and engaging the private sector to provide individuals who have earned a second chance the opportunity to participate in the American economy.” The announcement comes as part of National Reentry Week (April 24-30) and the initiatives include:

  • Establishing the Federal Interagency Reentry Council.

The Attorney General has led a Cabinet-level reentry working group for the last five years, and the President is signing a Presidential Memorandum to continue this work by establishing the Council to lead the Government’s work on the rehabilitation and reintegration of individuals returning to their communities from prisons and jails.

  • “Banning the Box” for Federal Employees.

As called for by President Obama during a speech in November 2015, the Office of Personnel Management (OPM) is publishing a proposed rule that would prohibit federal agencies from asking questions about criminal and credit history to applicants for tens of thousands of jobs in the competitive service, as well as the career senior executive service, until a conditional offer of employment has been made. People with criminal records are already eligible to compete for the vast majority of federal job and the proposed rule would significantly expand the federal positions covered whereby consideration of a criminal background is delayed.

The rule would also allow agencies to request exceptions where there are legitimate job-related reasons why they might need to obtain a candidate’s background information sooner in the hiring process. Unless an exception is granted, only after a conditional job offer is made will candidates be asked questions about criminal and credit history that may bear on their suitability for federal employment.

Comments to the proposed rule are due 60 days after the proposal is published in the Federal Register which is expected May 2.

  • Directing Federal Agencies to Review Procedures for Conducting Suitability Determinations for Job Applicants and Criteria for Granting Occupational Licenses.

The Presidential Memorandum also directs all agencies and departments to review their procedures for conducting a suitability determination for a job applicant with a criminal record. These suitability determinations evaluate each individual’s character and conduct and consider such factors as the relevance of any past criminal conduct to the job; the nature, seriousness, recency, and circumstances of any criminal conduct; the age of the individual at the time of the conduct; contributing societal conditions; and whether any efforts have been made toward rehabilitation.

Further, the Presidential Memorandum directs all agencies with discretion to grant or deny occupational licenses to revise their procedures, consistent with the need to protect public safety, to ensure that a criminal record is not an automatic disqualifier and that the determination to grant or deny a license is made after consideration of all relevant facts and circumstances.

The White House also noted additional action by federal agencies to improve the rehabilitation and reintegration of formerly incarcerated individuals:

  • The Council of Economic Advisors released a report, “Economic Perspectives on Incarceration and the Criminal Justice System,” and hosted an event with the Brennan Center for Justice and the American Enterprise Institute focused on the economic impact of the criminal justice system and identified cost-effective ways to reduce crime and incarceration rates.
  • The Department of Justice (DOJ) announced its “Roadmap to Reentry,” outlining five evidence-based principles of reform to be implemented by the Bureau of Prisons to ensure DOJ’s commitment to reentry is incorporated throughout incarceration – from intake to release.
  • Attorney General Lynch sent a letter to governors asking them to allow individuals reentering the community to exchange their corrections identification card for a state identification cards or to accept a corrections identification card as a form of identification. The lack of state-issued identification is another common barrier in getting a job, housing, or opening a bank account.
  • The U.S. Attorneys’ Offices and Bureau of Prisons are hosting hundreds of events in all 50 states, the District of Columbia, Puerto Rico, and the U.S. Virgin Islands, including job fairs and resource fairs, mock interview sessions, resume workshops, family engagement events.
  • The Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) released guidance on the application of Fair Housing Act standards to the use of criminal records by providers of housing and guidance for public housing authorities on excluding the use of arrest records in housing decisions.
  • HUD and DOJ announced recipients of $1.75 million in grants for Public Housing Authorities and nonprofit legal service organizations to assist young people residing in public housing or who would be residing in public housing but for their criminal record.
  • The Department of Health and Human Services released guidance clarifying that individuals in state or local halfway houses and those on probation or parole are not excluded from Medicaid and describing how states can better facilitate access to Medicaid services for individuals reentering the community.
  • The Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) is participating in 120 events at Bureau of Prison facilities and VA medical centers to serve justice-involved Veterans. VA’s Veterans Justice Outreach initiative is active in over 350 Veterans Treatment Courts and other Veteran-focused court programs and 1,284 local jails.

The memorandum can be found on the White House website, along with a fact sheet here.

Copyright (c) by NAPBS 2016. All rights reserved.  

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Posted by Sandra Shinn in General

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