The Social Science Research Network (SSRN) has made available a paper entitled “Legislating Forgiveness: A Study of Post-Conviction Certificates as Policy to Address the Employment Consequences of a Conviction” and written by Heather Garretson, which addresses the fact that mass incarceration in America is creating an employment paradox that is the result of three facts (i.e. an estimated 65 million Americans have a criminal record, a criminal record significantly impairs job opportunities, and a job is a critical component of living a crime-free life) and that is perpetuated by thousands of legal and administrative barriers to employment and by employers’ unwillingness to hire someone with a criminal record.
In an effort to address this paradox, states have recently started addressing the employment paradox with legislation that authorizes an administrative relief mechanism that is intended to lift employment barriers and encourage employers to consider applicants with a criminal record.
The state of New York has the oldest and most robust certificate system and is a model for much of the recent certificate legislation, and this paper on SSRN contains the first comprehensive research on New York’s certificates and asks whether New York’s certificates are accessible and relevant to employment.
As a result of interviews with judges, people with certificates or those eligible but without one, attorneys, current and former probation officials, service providers, and advocates, this paper provides insights into the use of certificates as well as their challenges and examines how the legislation of more of them can effectively address the employment paradox.