The American Human Rights Council (AHRC-USA) welcomes Michigan Governor’s Rick Snyder executive order that bans questions on job and license applications related to felony convictions.
AHRC as an advocate for prisoners’ rights salutes this order. This order goes a long way in helping individuals who have paid their debt to society reintegrate into society and honestly provide for themselves and for their families.
This decision is a big and important step in the right direction that will help the formerly incarcerated integrate into society and become active contributing members. Barriers to entry into the job market result in the inability to make an honest living. This inability has a devastating impact on the formerly incarcerated and increases the rates of recidivism. This hurts both the convicted, the families, and their society that has to pay the cost of their incarceration.
The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission(EEOC) has long held that blanket exclusion of individuals with a conviction record is illegal. One’s record is an important piece of information but the prospective employer should subject the applicant to individualized assessment that takes the nature of the conviction, the age of the conviction and the risks associated with the job in determining whether or not to hire the person with a record. Having the felony conviction question might lead many not to apply and perhaps exclude others who would have passed an individualized assessment.
“Inability to make an honest living puts all of a person’s human rights in jeopardy,” said Imad Hamad, AHRC Executive Director. “Without a job a person cannot provide for their most basic needs,” added Hamad. “Everyone deserves the opportunity to earn an honest living and this order makes it possible for all Michiganders,” concluded Hamad.
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