“Working with many, many ex~offenders during the past 20 years, it is clear to me that finding employment is one of the biggest hurdles for ex-offenders. That’s my own experience as well. Former offenders, especially former felons, need not apply. I should note that not finding employment increases the risk of offending again--by a LOT. And the result costs us a LOT, both in the costs of the offense and in the costs of incarceration. So we have a large stake in having ex-offenders find employment. And I have to tell you that the biggest step is getting in the door. Getting far enough to actually talk with the employer. So that they can get to know you. So that they can have a sense of how much work and sincere effort you have put into your recovery and changing your life. So that they can have a sense of how hard you will work for them and how much you have to contribute. For that you have to get past the initial application form and into a face-to-face meeting. That’s what this bill is designed to help accomplish.”
– Testimony of Peter Lehman from Thomaston, Maine. Peter is a professional sociologist and criminologist who has spent much of his career working with and teaching law enforcement, corrections and probation officers.
This bill would have provided job-seekers who have criminal records a better chance at getting hired--one of the most important steps to rehabilitation--by restricting questions on applications to work experience and personal information, thereby allowing employers to judge applicants on their qualifications rather than the stigma of a record. More than 150 cities and counties in 30 states nationwide have adopted similar policies.
Everyone deserves a fair shot at employment, but too many people face barriers. One in three adult Mainers has an arrest or conviction record that can show up on an employment background check. People of color are disproportionately impacted: black men and women in Maine are incarcerated at nearly six times the rate of white men and women. An arrest or conviction record has devastating consequences for employment. Finding gainful employment once somebody has served a conviction is a significant factor towards reducing reoffending, and has meaningful ripple effects on the person’s family, community, and our state economy at large.
DEAD: Gov. LePage vetoed this bill, and his veto was sustained.