“I remember Chaplain David Hendricks would always say “that when you know that you know!” The funny thing about that statement I’ve learned is that the KNOW is progressive. But I will share with you what I know today. When I first got released from prison in 2013, I believed everything would just fall into place. However, our wonderful and loving God allowed me to experience a thing or two. In fact, I had stumbled no, no, no, I jumped! If it were possible for me to fall away, I would have. Then, I went through a stage where I thought that the resistance and struggle to get a job was because I was being punished for all the wrong I done. True, there are consequences for choices that we made yesterday. But I will not go into that, because to clarify the fallacy that is intertwined in that ideology will take quite a bit of expounding. I will note that God used my past to help me see things I believe I would not be able to see due to pride blinding me into thinking my accomplishments were due to my own doing. True God will not be mocked and we will reap what we sow. Along the same vein, I know God is a merciful God. Thus, I will share one of my favorite passages in the Bible because it helps us to see the character of God and Him operating in His absolute sovereignty. Romans 9:15 says “For [God] says to Moses, ‘I will have mercy on whom I have mercy, and I will have compassion on whom I have compassion.’ 16 So then it depends not on human will or exertion,2 but on God, who has mercy.”
A few moments ago I was thinking about the Apostle Paul and reflected on the fact that he did not continue to beat himself up about who he was before salvation. Just last week, I learned about God’s favor and mercy to a degree because I am sure there is more. That is why today I can stand firm in knowing that I am in Jesus, thus I aim to share the hope that is within me just as Peter said in Peter 3:15 “15 But in your hearts revere Christ as Lord. Always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have. But do this with gentleness and respect” So if you ask me about the reason for the hope that I have is because I believe Jesus IS and my heart desire is to obey Him. This joy that I have, even in the midst of struggles and ALL my flaws, is because I am totally confident that Jesus has set me free! I pray that you who took your time to read this that the Lord will empower or continue to empower you to spread this Hope Message known as the Good News, in Jesus name I pray. Whatever the problem may be today think back to the hope that you have, and when you overcome strengthen your brother. The word of God is powerful, my, my, my.”
This is a shirt I designed that came from a Christian Mobile App idea I was working on a few months back. The name NaDab is a Hebrew name. It is some interesting facts that are connected to the name. Some are obvious and some are not. Its Hebrew name meaning is generous or the connotation being generous. You can click on it here to order or go to my biz page. I would love to get the next design out because it has flavor so be a champ and get a shirt. 🙂
On a Tuesday in late May, Antonio Franklin sits in a makeshift classroom in Boston’s Dorchester neighborhood, ten years to the day after he stepped foot inside Massachusetts Correctional Institution at Norfolk to serve nine years for aggravated assault against a cop. Pencil in hand, he looks on as instructor Ismail Abdurrashid fills a whiteboard with algebra equations. A year ago, Franklin left prison. Now, at 31, he’s brushing up on high-school-level math with about a dozen other classmates, preparing to attend Bunker Hill Community College in the fall.
Many of Franklin’s classmates dropped out of high school, and many were incarcerated. Some, like Franklin, earned their GED while serving time; some are taking this math class to prepare for the corresponding HiSET, or High School Equivalency Test (a new test, similar to the GED). Some, also like Franklin, ended up in prison after being on the streets, engaging in gunplay and selling narcotics. All of them are now being paid to attend class and go to college.
Franklin and about 40 other students are members of Boston Uncornered, a three-year pilot program launched in May and run by the education nonprofit College Bound Dorchester. The participants earn a $400 weekly stipend by attending class every day, passing their HiSETs, and matriculating to college. Once in college, the stipend continues for as long as it takes them to graduate with an associate’s degree. The program seeks to address one key factor—lack of income—that might lure ex-offenders and former gang members back on the street. “As much as we want to do good in school, we need money,” says Franklin, whose stipend goes toward his rent, groceries, and probation fees. “I love this school stuff, but how can you live life without being financially stable as well?”
Whether the program can put a dent into the overall gang activity on Boston’s streets remains to be seen. According to CBD, the city’s estimated 2,600 gang members are responsible for half the city’s homicides and close to three-quarters of all shootings. In 2016, there were 135 total homicides in Boston, a slightly higher tally than the previous year, and local law enforcement say gang feuds were responsible for the uptick.
In Dorchester, the issues of gang activity and crime in general are felt more acutely. Boston’s largest neighborhood is home to about one-quarter of the city’s impoverished residents; they are more likely to be stopped-and-frisked by police and “are jailed at about twice the rate of the city as a whole,” according to the Boston Globe.
The prospect of paying former gang members to go to school is sure to have eyes rolling far into the backs of many people’s heads. But Mark Culliton, an educator with 20 years’ experience and current CEO of College Bound Dorchester, has heard all the counterarguments. He doesn’t buy any of them.
“Financial incentives, as a society, we believe are for hedge fund guys, for Wall Street guys,” he says. “But for poor kids, we suddenly think that’s wrong. It seems to work pretty well for a lot of other industries.”
Through Boston Uncornered, the hope is that the $400 weekly stipend is enough incentive to keep kids off the corners and out of jail. Over the next three years, the nonprofit will reach out specifically to what it calls “core influencers” in a half-dozen hotspots of crime and gang activity as identified by the City of Boston’s Office of Public Safety. It’ll do this work by using current CBD employees who are themselves former gang members—they’re now college graduates or gainfully employed. The thinking is that ex-gang members can convince current ones to follow in their footsteps.
“A highly disengaged, highly disruptive group of young people makes a bad neighborhood. If you serve them, though, it’ll unlock the potential of the whole neighborhood,” Culliton says. “Boston Uncornered is not about individual transformation. It’s ultimately about, can some of these hotspots go from places of fear and violence to places of true opportunity?”
The concept behind the program echoes anti-violence efforts in other cities. Most famously, the Chicago-based organization Cure Violence, developed by epidemiologist Gary Slutkin in the mid-1990s, employs ex-felons to do street-level mediation between drug dealers and gang members in an effort to stop shootings. Variants of that model have had success in several cities. In Baltimore, for example, the city’s Safe Streets program has operated since 2007, and currently has five sites around the city. Overall, neighborhoods with Safe Streets have lower levels of homicides and less gun crime compared to other neighborhoods, according to research done by the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health.
But where those other programs seek to stop neighborhood shootings by walking the beat, so to speak, the influencers of Boston Uncornered try to directly pull players off the street and into the classroom. Participants are paired with a College Readiness Advisor, or CRA—College Bound Dorchester team members who have successfully left behind their own troubled pasts. They work individually with participants to set up college plans, making goals for a gamut of benchmarks, including how to pass HiSETs, make it into community college, and apply for financial aid to help offset additional college costs.
“It’s a great opportunity for individuals like me who were stuck in the streets and were thinking, ‘This is it,’” says Francisco Depina, a 32-year-old CRA who’s been involved with CBD since 2006, when he was a student working toward his GED.
Now he works with students like Franklin to keep them on a path toward college. This isn’t always easy. Many of the Boston Uncornered participants under Depina’s supervision grew up like he did. At age 2 his father abandoned his family, and by high school he was involved with a gang, selling drugs. His penchant for brawling in the hallways eventually got him kicked out of the Boston public school system. “In school I remember being told that by the time I’m 18, I’ll either be dead or in jail,” Depina says. “I really believed that once—that school wasn’t for me, that education wasn’t for me, that the street was it.”
Intervention from a CBD employee eventually turned Depina from the streets. Simple things, he says, slowly chiseled away his hard exterior: games of chess on a stoop, or casual phone calls just to check up on him. It’s those experiences Depina now draws from to go back to the corners and convince those who grew up like him to follow his lead. “When they see that someone cares for them the way someone cared for me, they’ll listen to you,” he says. “Eventually, they’ll follow.”
What College Bound Dorchester is attempting through Boston Uncornered is not without risks. As in other programs built around similar models, some participants may not have entirely left their lives of crime behind. (In 2015, for example, guns and drugs were discovered in a Safe Streets office in East Baltimore.) CBD did a trial run of the program January 2016, when it took seven core influencers who had either a GED or high school diploma and began paying them to attend classes at Bunker Hill Community College or Benjamin Franklin Institute of Technology. Of those seven, two were re-arrested. One had to be rushed out of the state on a Sunday morning after his former gang put a bounty on his head. Another one, as Culliton says, “just played us”: He pocketed the $400 a week and lied about going to classes. Only three stayed the course. Of those, two are still in college, while the third recently got his HVAC certificate and is now working.
Since that trial, the nonprofit has worked with about 200 core influencers. About 85 percent of them are still taking classes at CBD, and roughly half are enrolled in college. Participants so far have shown a 71 percent drop in recidivism. With the launch of Boston Uncornered in May, CBD plans on scaling this work to reach about 600 core influencers. That would cost $18 million over the three years, $5 million of which goes toward paying student stipends alone. (So far, CBD has raised $4.8 million.)
Is that money well spent? Considering that the state of Massachusetts spends about $53,000 per year on a single prison inmate, it could be. The worry from some critics is that Boston Uncornered participants who can’t stay the course might obstruct the education of their college peers. “Lots of kids spend lots of money to go to school,” Brian Kyes, chief of the Chelsea, Massachusetts, police department, told the Boston Herald. “I hope there is no disruption.”
But Culliton emphasizes the more intangible benefit of the program: He’s seen participants grab hold of the second chance they’ve been given after realizing that, for so many years, they actively played a role in destroying their own communities. “We know that when you give people the means to make a choice to focus on education, they do,” Culliton says.
As Franklin can attest, he’s now on a path he never thought he’d walk. Growing up in Dorchester, Franklin was raised by a mother and grandmother who were addicted to drugs. By age 12, he was involved in a gang. By age 21, he was in prison. A decade later, he’s getting ready to study sociology and psychology en route to earning his associate’s degree. He says he’d like to use his education to reach out to kids living the sort of hard life he knows all too well.
“I always wanted to do good in my life. I just felt like because of the area I lived in, because I got involved in gangs, I couldn’t do it,” he says. “This program is giving us a stepping stool to better our life.”
My name is Anthony Brown, Founder of Past & Future Corp. We are a startup (pre) nonprofit entity dedicated to helping ex-offenders (returning citizens) gain employment and become productive and valuable members of Florida’s Panhandle communities. But not only are returned citizens in our scope, we offer the same opportunities to veterans and those who desire to change his or her quality of living. We understand that navigating through the process of gaining skills outside of the traditional methods can be cumbersome, thus we will assist in the process.
More than 650,000 individuals are released from prison nationally every year, and half of them have committed crimes that are not violent. They face staggering challenges as they try to reintegrate into society. Finding employment, a place to live, and a means of transportation are just three of their immediate needs.
Based in Okaloosa County, Founder of Past & Future Corp. has developed an eight-month program that provides job training, skill development, personal mentorship and spiritual/ethical guidance during a critical time in a returning citizen’s life. Not everyone meets our criteria for participation. Above all, those who qualify must display an aptitude for learning and a genuine desire to make a decisive change in their lives.
With our help, returning citizens become proficient in technical skills that are in high demand by local businesses. In addition, they learn how to deal with life issues, are immersed in our faith-based values, and develop a respect for authority. At the end of the eight months, they are prepared to successfully move forward in their journey to a better future.
The success of our program depends on the team of partners that we develop. We not only are looking for qualified instructors and mentors, but we are also reaching out to law enforcement agencies, chaplains, faith-based transitional facilities, employment agencies, and businesses that may be willing to hire our participants.
This last category is especially critical. Not every business owner understands the value that a returning citizen can bring to their business. Since most returning citizens find it difficult to get jobs and re-enter society, they are deeply grateful and loyal to any employer who gives them a chance. Beyond that and the skills that they offer, employers who are willing to hire returning citizens can apply for a ‘Work Opportunity Tax Credit’ and are eligible to participate in the ‘Federal Bonding Program,’ which limits an employer’s risk, liability, and insurance costs.
We are currently reaching out to you to ask for your help in assembling this important team. If you would like to partner with us, or if you have any leads that we can tap into for this purpose, we would be deeply grateful. The following quote is at the core of what we are trying to accomplish: ‘Teamwork divides the task and multiplies the success.’ The author is unknown, but those few words say it all. For more information, please call me at 850-865-9145. I look forward to hearing your thoughts and welcome your involvement.
Todd Fields stooped as he edged through the dark doorway of a little house deep in South Dallas that, not long ago, was abandoned.
The towering former college basketball player greeted his construction foreman, Byron Rose, and his project manager, Martin Evans.
“When [Evans] showed me the house, you wouldn’t want to step into the house because you might catch something,” Rose explained. “As you can see, we’re really getting into things.”
But their business, 2S Industries, isn’t simply a small house-flipping operation.
It’s the revenue-generating “social enterprise” arm of a nonprofit called 2ndSaturday, which deploys volunteers to do maintenance and community beautification projects around West and South Dallas.
And while adding to the city’s understocked pool of affordable housing is a bonus, that’s not the main goal.
It’s to hire the kinds of ex-offenders other post-prison release programs may not take.
“The affordable home is simply a byproduct of our mission to put guys to work,” said Fields, who made — and subsequently lost — a lot of money in real estate. “We’re not simulating a job — this is a job. ”
A violent criminal record isn’t a disqualifier to work at 2S, for instance. Rose spent eight years behind bars for aggravated robbery.
Though Rose has had other jobs since he got out of prison, 2S Industries has stood apart. It’s more than a way to scrape out an existence working for an employer who looks at you with suspicion. It’s a chance to build a career.
“I wake up in the morning and I get to go to work — I don’t have to go to work, I want to go to work,” the 32-year-old Dallasite said. “To go from taking, stealing, robbing, committing crimes to holding keys to thousands of dollars of equipment, to be able to be left alone at a site by myself.”
The entrepreneurial twist on a more traditional charitable model is what caught the eye of Dallas Foundation leaders. On Wednesday evening, the foundation was slated to give 2ndSaturday its annual Pegasus Prize, along with a $50,000 grant.
“One of the reasons the [prize] committee chose it is because it is a social enterprise,” said Helen Holman, the foundation’s chief philanthropy officer. “Ultimately, it will be a self-sustaining venture.
Holman said 2ndSaturday’s mission to help ex-offenders contribute to communities they once victimized is admirable.
But part of the prize’s aim is to help scale up organizations that are tackling community issues in new and unusual ways.
The move comes amid shifts in the ways charities work to solve intractable social problems in communities around the country. Increasingly, that means embracing business principles as a way to spark innovation and turning away from more traditional notions of philanthropy.
Tony Fleo, CEO of Social Venture Partners in Dallas, said his organization has been working to identify programs that — like start-ups — have proved they can be successful and need the extra cash to expand. Tax status doesn’t matter.
“Philanthropists are looking at alternative effective programs to invest in — whether they’re coming from the nonprofit world, the for-profit world or the government world,” he said.
Still, Leslie Lenkowsky, a former professor at Indiana University-Purdue University Indianapolis’ school of philanthropy, said starting a revenue-generating business to help advance a charitable mission is nothing new. (Think Girl Scouts and cookies or Goodwill Industries.)
Lenkowsky said part of the more recent buzz around social enterprises stems from a levelling off in donations and a decline in government funding for nonprofit work that started “long before Mr. [Donald] Trump went into the White House.”
And the idea that nonprofits aren’t innovative is fed by high-profile tech executives, like Facebook’s Mark Zuckerberg, who tout socially-minded capitalism as a “silver bullet,” for broad systemic problems.
In reality, he said, there’s no shortcut: Organizations hoping to make social change have to be judged based on whether they’re achieving their goals.
‘Do well and do good’
Tynesia Boyea-Robinson, chief impact officer of New York- and Washington-based Living Cities, said that although Dallas is making strides toward a more creative philanthropic community, it’s still behind the curve when it comes to what she described as fostering organizations that both “do well and do good.”
Boyea-Robinson, who lives in Dallas and has worked with various local community organizations, said that’s the result of a range of obstacles.
Two big ones are difficulty raising capital and the lack of a kind of social business “playbook,” especially for women and people of color, who are often best-positioned to fill market voids they know the most about.
But she said Dallas has had trouble overcoming what she called the “charity problem.”
“It’s still the charity mindset [of], ‘We are trying to help people and we feel like … if we’re helping you, you shouldn’t make money,'” Boyea-Robinson said. “Charity is a currency in Dallas.”
The good news, she said, is that Dallas philanthropists have an opportunity to make sure their investments in nonprofits are more strategic.
“You cannot grant your way out of social change problems,” Boyea-Robinson said. “If foundations are using their funding in a way that’s catalytic — in ways that draw change — that’s really powerful.”
Fields, who cops to having a short attention span and big dreams for 2S Industries, said the Pegasus Prize money will help make it possible for the organization to move on to the next phase.
They’re hoping to move their operations into a permanent space of their own in the heart of the South Dallas community they hope to serve, and to hire a caseworker.
But even as Fields said he’s learned the lingo of social enterprise and business, 2S Industries will still be an organic endeavor.
“The original five guys I started with — it was 100 percent based on relationships,” he said. “It wasn’t me drawing up this crazy business plan.”
Lansing, Mich. – The number of Michigan offenders who relapse into criminal behavior after being released from prison has fallen to its second lowest level since the state began recording three-year re-incarceration rates.
Michigan’s recidivism rate, which measures the percentage of offenders who return to prison within three years, has dropped to 29.8 percent. This places Michigan among the top 10 states in the nation with the lowest recidivism rates.
Offenders can be returned to prison for committing new crimes, or for violating the conditions of their parole.
The current figures represent individuals who were released from prison in 2013.
It is a decline from the previous recidivism rate of 31 percent, which represented prisoners who paroled in 2012.
Recidivism hit its lowest point of 29 percent in 2014. Those prisoners were released in 2010.
Recidivism in Michigan has hovered around 30 percent in recent years and it reflects a sharp drop from 1998 when the rate was 45.7 percent.
The recidivism rate is one important indicator that the Michigan Department of Corrections is meeting its mission to prepare prisoners to reenter the community as law-abiding citizens, said Department of Corrections Director Heidi Washington.
“When we give offenders the skills they need to lead crime-free lives as productive members of society, it makes Michigan a safer place to live,” Washington said. “These figures show our efforts have been effective and we look forward to building upon that success.”
The department has launched a number of initiatives in recent years to provide prisoners with education and job training in high-demand fields that can lead to stable careers and lower the risk of re-offense.
These initiatives include the Vocational Village, which opened at Richard A. Handlon Correctional Facility in Ionia in 2016, and provides training in automotive technology, welding, carpentry, plumbing, electrical trades and CNC machining. A second Vocational Village site is being ramped up at Parnall Correctional Facility in Jackson.
After joining a gang as a teenager, Wayne McMahon spent 25 years in and out of California prisons. Hearing that his nephew was headed down the same road finally gave McMahon, at the age of 45, the motivation three years ago to start changing his life.
“You get to a certain age where you see that Mom and Dad were right most of the time,” he said.
Step by step, McMahon is transitioning back into society – leaving his gang, attending rehab and paying restitution for his crimes – but steady work has eluded him.
Despite looking for months, McMahon said he can only get side jobs taking care of people’s yards, maybe once or twice a week. He said employers never seem to get beyond his criminal record, which includes arrests for drugs, burglary and an attempted murder that he says was revenge against a man who raped his sister.
“Once they see you’ve been convicted of a felony, they say, ‘Don’t call us, we’ll call you,’ ” McMahon said. “You don’t get the opportunity to explain to them.”
California could soon make his search easier by eliminating the felony conviction box from job applications altogether.
Building on a 2013 law that prohibited public employers from asking about criminal history on the initial application, Assemblyman Kevin McCarty, D-Sacramento, has introduced a bill this session to expand the policy to private companies. Assembly Bill 1008 forbids inquiring about an applicant’s conviction record until they have received a conditional offer.
“This removes some of these arbitrary qualifiers,” McCarty said. “It does give people a chance to get their foot in the door.”
ONCE THEY SEE YOU’VE BEEN CONVICTED OF A FELONY, THEY SAY, ‘DON’T CALL US, WE’LL CALL YOU.’
The idea has taken off across the country in recent years: 25 states and more than 150 cities and counties now have “ban the box” laws in place, according to the National Employment Law Project. In nine states and 15 cities, including San Francisco and Los Angeles, the policy applies to private employers.
In 2015, then-President Barack Obama endorsed the policy, instructing federal agencies to remove questions about prior convictions from applications and urging companies to pledge to do the same.
But some remain skeptical of the approach. Several recent studies concluded that banning the box actually hurts many of those it is intended to help by increasing bias against black and Latino job applicants that employers may assume are more likely to have a criminal history.
“The problem of ‘ban the box’ is it doesn’t do anything to address employers’ concerns about hiring people with criminal records,” said Jennifer Doleac, an assistant professor at the University of Virginia’s Batten School of Leadership and Public Policy. “Hiding the information from them during the application process will put some of them in the position of simply trying to guess.”
Hawaii was the first state to prohibit employers from asking about criminal history in 1998, but an organized ban-the-box campaign would not emerge for more than half a decade.
In 2004, All of Us or None, a San Francisco-based organization of formerly incarcerated people, began pushing the San Francisco Board of Supervisors to remove the felony conviction question from the initial application for public sector jobs, around the same time that another group launched its own drive in Boston.
Those ultimately successful efforts formed the basis for a movement that gradually spread into other cities and states. All of Us or None first targeted local Bay Area governments, winning approval in East Palo Alto in 2006 and Alameda County in 2007, before moving into Southern California and connecting with activists in places like Florida and Georgia who took up the cause there.
25 STATES AND MORE THAN 150 CITIES AND COUNTIES NOW HAVE “BAN THE BOX” LAWS IN PLACE.
Lobbying by the group persuaded then-Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger to issue an executive order in 2010 removing the conviction box from state job applications. The Legislature broadened that policy in 2013, passing a law that state and local agencies in California cannot ask about an applicant’s criminal background until their minimum qualifications for the position have already been established.
Manuel La Fontaine, who coordinates All of Us or None’s national ban-the-box campaign, said ex-offenders like himself are simply “asking for a fair chance to work.”
He was arrested at age 19 and served time from 1999 to 2003, though he declines to discuss for what because he feels it is not a reflection of who he is now. After getting out of prison at age 24, La Fontaine said he bought nice clothes and cut his hair to look for a job – something stable with benefits to get on his feet – but he couldn’t get hired anywhere. He eventually joined All of Us or None in 2008.
“We change through time,” he said. “Judge us based on our overall character, rather than one or two actions we did when we were younger.”
La Fontaine said society is often afraid of those who have been to prison, but “there should be a presumption of rehabilitation.”
“If I was incarcerated in 2001, why should I have trouble finding housing now?” he said. “Why should my wife, my son, my daughter be feeling the brunt of something when I’m supposed to have served my time?”
After laying the groundwork with public employment laws, All of Us or None has shifted its attention to private companies, where many former convicts seek work with entry-level jobs in construction or at retailers. First again in California to adopt a policy was San Francisco, which passed an ordinance in 2014 prohibiting employers from asking about criminal history before the first interview with an applicant.
The business community was involved in crafting the legislation from an early stage, according to Jim Lazarus, senior vice president of public policy at the San Francisco Chamber of Commerce. He said they secured exemptions for small businesses with fewer than 20 employees and certain jobs where a criminal background check is required, like working in a bank or around children.
JUDGE US BASED ON OUR OVERALL CHARACTER, RATHER THAN ONE OR TWO ACTIONS WE DID WHEN WE WERE YOUNGER.
Manuel La Fontaine, program manager at All of Us or None
The chamber also voiced concerns over an initial proposal to hold off on the background check until a tentative job offer had been made.
“It’s late in the process,” Lazarus said. “We convinced the authors that a midpoint in this makes more sense.”
That could be trouble for McCarty’s bill at the Capitol, which takes the more expansive approach. Lazarus said the chamber is still reviewing AB 1008. But, he added, they haven’t heard any complaints about the ordinance in San Francisco, where the “vast, vast majority of employers don’t even ask the question” about conviction history anymore.
Two studies released last summer cast doubt on the effectiveness of the strategy in helping formerly incarcerated people find work.
In one, authored by Amanda Y. Agan of Princeton University and Sonja B. Starr of the University of Michigan Law School, researchers submitted approximately 15,000 fictitious online job applications in New York City and New Jersey, before and after their ban-the-box laws took effect. They found that a 7 percent gap in callbacks between white and black applicants grew to 45 percent once employers could no longer ask about conviction history.
The other study, by Doleac and Benjamin Hansen of the University of Oregon, compared employment rates in jurisdictions that adopted ban-the-box policies with those that had not. For young black and Latino men without college degrees – those who are statistically more likely to have a recent conviction – employment dropped 5 percent and 3 percent, respectively. Where the law applied to private companies, there was a jump in employment for young white men.
“Employers do seem to use race as a proxy for criminality,” Doleac said. “If they have a white man and a black man, they’ll be more likely to call the white guy every time.”
IN A STUDY RELEASED LAST SUMMER, RESEARCHERS FOUND THAT EMPLOYMENT DROPPED ABOUT 5 PERCENT AMONG YOUNG BLACK MEN AND 3 PERCENT AMONG YOUNG LATINO MEN IN JURISDICTIONS WITH BAN-THE-BOX POLICIES.
Doleac said she hears several main concerns from employers about hiring ex-offenders: Having a criminal record is correlated with other characteristics that can make you a less productive employee, like mental illness or substance abuse. Those with a recent conviction are more likely to still be engaged in criminal activity. They are worried about getting sued for negligent hiring.
“Employers just want to hire someone who’s going to show up on time every day and do the job,” she said.
McCarty said he has seen the research, but he believes the arguments for banning the box far outweigh the downside: “That is an opinion, but that is a risk that the advocates and myself are willing to take.” La Fontaine, of All of Us or None, dismisses the studies as an effort to “undermine the work of formerly incarcerated people.”
McMahon continues to look for his first real job outside of prison. Last month, he connected with Associated Prison Ministries of California, a Sacramento-based organization that provides services like employment counseling for ex-offenders. It is run by Pastor James Carr, who is himself formerly incarcerated.
On a recent Friday, McMahon and Carr chatted about his job search and how banning the box would make it easier. Once he pays about $1,900 more in restitution, McMahon will be able to get his criminal record expunged.
He is now a manager at a sober living facility, and is being certified in drug and alcohol counseling, but his dream is to start his own landscaping business. McMahon said God will bless him when he’s ready.
“These days, I’m happy,” he said. “I don’t have everything right now, but I don’t have to look over my shoulder every day.”
As McMahon left the office, Carr handed him another job to check out, digging a route for a fiber optic cable system. The listing, Carr noted, said that only crimes substantially related to the position would be considered.