Target: California State Assembly
Goal: Give ex-convicts more of an opportunity and ability to successfully reintegrate back into society.
The California’s State Assembly will consider three bills designed to help ex-convicts re-integrate themselves successfully back into society and the work force. After release, many ex-prisoners find it extremely difficult to be fairly considered for jobs, education and housing. Without the structure that these provide they become much more at risk of becoming dual offenders and returning to an already overcrowded prison system.
One bill will ease the transition back to society by having criminal records expunged after completing a probation period. Another would require employers to remove the felony conviction question from initial applications, which would greatly decrease widespread employer discrimination. Employers would still be able to request and receive this information, but not until the second round of the application process. Lastly, another bill would reduce the “possession of drugs” conviction to a misdemeanor as opposed to a felony. Thirteen other states already have similar legislation in place and all those states have seen a marked decrease in drug use and a significant increase in drug treatment.
Punishment for crimes should not unjustly continue once criminals have already endured the term of their sentence; how else can ex-convicts escape the patterns of criminal life? As with any marginalized group, they deserve an equal opportunity to find housing, seek education and be hired without discrimination. Housing, further education, and employment enables ex-convicts greater possibility for long-term successful reintegration.
The American Civil Liberties Union has expressed strong support for these measures and California lawmakers should do the same. A level playing field for criminals reentering society creates an environment of possibility and hope with a greatly reduced propensity for activities that may land ex-convicts back in prison. Support the rights of released convicts by urging California lawmakers to act on these bills before the June deadline.
Dear California State Assembly,
The ex-convicts in California should not be discriminated against in the their search for employment, housing and education. I am writing to urge you to pass three separate bills which would significantly improve the opportunities available to ex-cons and help them successfully reintegrate back into society.
By having criminal records unavailable during the initial screening process of job applicants, ex-convicts will not face nearly as much unfair discrimination in their job search. Also, a felony conviction carries a heavy stigma and by reducing “possession of drugs” charge to a misdemeanor, those accused have better opportunities for treatment and less propensity for another conviction, as evidenced by the trends in the thirteen other states that have similar legislation.
Convicts who have served their time deserve an equal chance to become a contributing member of society. Please pass legislation supporting the rights of ex-convicts as they attempt to break the cycle of crime and become capable contributing members of society.
[Your Name Here]