In February 2014, President Obama announced an initiative My Brother’s Keeper, “to address persistent opportunity gaps faced by boys and young men of color and ensure that all young people can reach their full potential.” In May 2014, the White House issued a task force report that included a number of recommendations, including to address barriers to employment and education. The report noted that
[t]he long-term—sometimes lifetime—impact of a criminal record is of particular concern when it comes to getting a job. . .Most companies perform background checks, and many have overly-broad “no-hire” policies that screen out anyone with any history of contact with the criminal justice system. . .Employers that give justice-involved youth opportunities at a job, and otherwise enact policies that help reduce unnecessary and overly broad collateral consequences of a criminal record, are helping to improve public safety and improve lives. Strategies in this area should be appropriate to the age and circumstances of the individual.
Report, 53. The Report offered several recommendations
RECOMMENDATION 11.4: Launch an initiative to eliminate unnecessary barriers to giving justice-involved youth a second chance.
11.4.1 Large employers, including the Federal government, should study the impacts of requiring disclosure of juvenile or criminal records on job applications and consider “banning the box.” Federal, state, local, and private actors should support public campaigns focused on eliminating forms of discrimination and bias based on past arrest or conviction records.
11.4.2 Legal and other services focused on addressing successful reentry are acutely needed to address accuracy and expunge criminal records, reinstate licenses and reduce excessive fines. Relevant agencies should work with civil legal services providers, including the Legal Services Corporation, state and local attorneys general, and the private bar to expand awareness of the need and access to these services.
Eric J. Ellman is Senior Vice President for Public Policy and Legal Affairs at the Consumer Data Industry Association (CDIA) in Washington, DC. He also served for eight months as Interim President and CEO of the Association. More