Approval has recently been given to the subcommittee that is working on felon employment and the issues behind it. Approval came from the Mayor’s Commission and took place earlier in the week. The subcommittee has actually been meeting with one another for the past few months and on Wednesday, they presented a report that they had been working on. The report, which happened to be eight pages long, included a recommendation that Springfield City get rid of any questions pertaining to criminal history when it comes to employment. This removal of such questions is being referenced around the nation and is known as the ban the box movement. They believe that some job applications should not include such questions because there are people who were once felons but are now seeking employment and want to do the right thing. The commission discussed these recommendations but did not vote on them just yet.
One of the subcommittee members, Betsy Sandbothe, said that because the economy is still in recovery mode, former felons are having an even harder time finding employment than they would have prior to the recession and the crippling of the economy, especially since having a criminal history is a sure way to be weeded out of job applications and simply disqualified by employers. The presentation referred to a man named Joe who is 18 years of age. Joe gets his girlfriend pregnant and only earns minimum wage at his job, although he is desperately trying to support his girlfriend and child. After the girlfriend has yet another child, she decides it is best to stay home with the children because child care is too expensive. At this point, Joe is the sole bread-winner and ends up feeling stressed out about how he is going to pay for anything, so he decided to sell marijuana on the side. He gets caught, which starts the cycle. With this presentation, more people can relate and understand “Joe” and the reasons why he made such decision in the first place.
If felons are not offered a job and cannot find employment, they are much more likely to re-offend than former felons that do end up finding employment shortly after being released. The smaller businesses are usually more willing to hire felons but Sandbothe is hoping that the larger corporation will start to do the same as well. The recommendations would have an effect on the city jobs and would enable employers to be more open about who they hire, even if they do have somewhat of a criminal history. Often times, these people are only involved in crime because they are unable to make money in any other way, with constant letdowns and disqualifications.Felon Employment Issues by Harrison Barnes