The Aspire Entrepreneurship Initiative is a three-year, $2.1 million pilot project to connect former prisoners with entrepreneurship training and microloans. It is hosted by the U.S. Small Business Administration, Battle Creek-based W.K. Kellogg Foundation and Justine Petersen, a St. Louis-based organization that helps low-income people with credit building and other financial needs.Read More
Ban the Box
The D.C. Council passed the Returning Citizens Public Employment Inclusion Act, which prohibits city agencies from discriminating against job applicants who have finished serving criminal sentences when hiring for most city positions. Members of the “Ban the Box” coalition continue to push to expand employment opportunities for returning citizens by expanding these protections to private employers. As a matter of history, in January 2011, the late Councilmember Marion Barry introduced the Human Rights for Ex-Offenders Amendment Act of 2011, which amended the DC Human Rights Act to add persons with criminal records as a class protected from employment discrimination.
On July 14, 2014, the Council of the District of Columbia voted unanimously to pass the Fair Criminal Records Screening Act of 2014 (or FCRSA), which applies to private employers. Under that law, an employer that employs 11 or more employees in the District cannot make any inquiry into an applicant’s conviction until after making a conditional offer of employment. A conditional offer can only be withdrawn for a “legitimate business reason,” which must consider job-relatedness of the offense, time passed, rehabilitation and other factors.
A complaint process may be initiated with the Office of Human Rights and violation of the act may result in fines, of which half shall be awarded to the complainant. Reporting requirements are also included in the law such as voluntarily provided data on the hiring of applicants with records. The Office of D.C.’s Auditor has published a report on the impact of the FCRSA for the duration of its first nine months.
Several states, Washington D.C., and over 100 cities and counties now extend the fair-chance policy—otherwise known as “ban the box”—to government contractors, public, and private employers. The EJC and coalition partners continue to work members of the DC Council to pass legislation preventing discrimination against ex-offenders.
To get involved, please email firstname.lastname@example.org.
In mid-July, the EJC voiced support of a bill to make it more difficult for housing providers in the District to discriminate against it's citizens returning from incarceration after serving time in jail and/or prison. The bill introduced by Judiciary Committee Chairman Kenyan McDuffie entitled the Fair Criminal Record Screening for Housing Act...Read More