Legal Action Center President, Paul Samuels, says, “These bills represent important steps at the federal level to reduce the harmful and sometimes life-long collateral consequences of criminal records. We applaud the sponsors for their continued commitment reforming these fundamentally unfair policies and working towards a more just criminal justice system.”
Roberta Meyers, Director of the National H.I.R.E. Network at the Legal Action Center says, “When a person completes a criminal sentence, society expects them to return home, rejoin and recommit to their community, and to support themselves and their family. But current laws and policies deny people access to many of the opportunities essential to achieving this goal.” She adds, “Reducing barriers to employment, housing and basic safety net services for people who have completed their sentences is the right thing to do, both ethically and economically.”
The Fair Chance Act (S.827/H.R.1906) seeks to improve fairness in the hiring process for people with criminal records by prohibiting the federal government from requesting criminal history information from applicants until they reach the conditional offer stage, prohibiting federal contractors from requesting criminal history information from candidates for most positions until the conditional offer stage, and requiring the Bureau of Justice Statistics to issue a report on the employment statistics of formerly incarcerated individuals. In the Senate, the bill is sponsored by Senators Booker, Ron Johnson (R-WI), Rob Portman (R-OH), and Joni Ernst (R-IA).
The Legal Action Center has long-advocated to remove the many harmful barriers that people with criminal records face, including many of the reforms included in these bills. For more information about our position on these issues and other recommendations to reduce collateral consequences of arrest or conviction, please see our 2016 report entitled “Roadmap For Promoting Health and Justice.”