The Criminal Justice and Employment Initiative (CJEI) has been examining barriers to employment for people with criminal records for over a decade. Nearly one in three U.S. adults - 70 million Americans - has a criminal record on file that may be reported on a routine background check. Having even a minor criminal record, such as a misdemeanor or even an arrest without a conviction, can present obstacles to employment. Communities of color are disproportionately affected: Black men are six times more likely to be incarcerated than white men, and Hispanic men are two-and-a-half times more likely to be incarcerated than white men.
As a result, CJEI, in collaboration with employers, advocates, government agencies, and community stakeholders, developed a multifaceted educational program that focuses on employment laws and rights related to a criminal record, covering federal, state and local laws. We deliver customized training to justice-involved individuals, including incarcerated men at the Queensboro Correctional Facility.
Resources for People with Criminal Records
CJEI has developed resources, including easy-to-understand brochures for job seekers and a website for prospective employees that explains federal, state, and local laws (www.cjei.cornell.edu).
The links below provide information about background checks, which may be helpful for prospective employees to better understand what is revealed in a background check and what they may be able to do about it.
- “Background Checks: What Employees Should Know.” U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission. Retrieved from http://www.eeoc.gov/eeoc/publications/background_checks_employees.cfm
- Guide for workers with conviction and arrest histories. (2014). NELP – Center for Community Change. Retrieved from http://www.nelp.org/page/-/SCLP/2014/Guide-for-Workers-Conviction-Arrest-Histories-Know-Your-Rights.pdf?nocdn=1
- Your rights: criminal records. (2010). Workplacefairness. Retrieved from http://www.workplacefairness.org/criminal-records#18
The links below provide information for young people with criminal records to find: employment after release; transitional job programs for the justice-involved; help in preventing recidivism; alternatives to incarceration; and reentry services.
- Gunn, A. & Peterson, J. (2007). CEO’s young adult program: engaging formerly incarcerated young people in the workforce. CEO. Retrieved from http://ceoworks.org/wp-content/uploads/ceo_report_october_2009.pdf
- Jacobs, E. (2012). Returning to work after prison: final results from the transitional jobs reentry demonstration. MDRC. Retrieved from http://www.mdrc.org/sites/default/files/full_626.pdf
- Primary funding streams available to assist people with criminal records. Legal Action Center. Retrieved from http://lac.org/toolkits/funding/funding_streams.htm
- Toolkit: how to use Byrne Justice Assistance Grants. (2012). Legal Action Center. Retrieved from http://lac.org/index.php/lac/toolkit_how_to_use_byrne_justice_assistance_grants