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Did you know?
• This year, nearly 700,000 people will leave prison.
Source: "Smart on Crime: Recommendations for the Next Administration and Congress” http://2009transition.org/criminaljustice/
• One in five U.S. adults has a criminal record on file with the states.
Source: NELP BJS 2006
• A Los Angeles survey found that over 60% of employers would “probably not” or “definitely not” be willing to hire an individual with a criminal record.
Source: Harry J. Holzer, Steven Raphael, and Michael A. Stoll, "Will Employers Hire Ex-Offenders? Employer Checks, Background Checks, and Their Determinants." October 1, 2001. Berkeley Program on Housing and Urban Policy. Working Papers: Paper W01-005.
Available online at http://repositories.cdlib.org/iber/bphup/working_papers/W01-005/
• Racial disparities persist: while Native Hawaiians are only about 9% of the state’s population, they are anywhere from 22% to 45% of the prison population. In Maui County, native Hawaiian women disproportionately comprise 61 per cent of inmates in work furlough. (Senate Conc. Res. 156).
Source: Senate Conc. Res. 156
• The number of women with convictions (especially low-level drug-related convictions) has skyrocketed. From 1985 to 2007, the number of women in prison increased at nearly double the rate of men.
Source: Women in the Criminal Justice System: An Overview. The Sentencing Project. May 2007.
• The incarceration of some Hawaiian prisoners on the mainland makes re-entry following prison even more difficult.
Source: (Senate Conc. Res. 156)
People with legal histories face dramatic barriers to gaining employment.
• People with records face widespread employment discrimination. Criminal records have become easily accessible and widely available to employers. For a few dollars, employers can download them from the internet. Now a big business for hundreds of companies, background reports are often riddled with errors, and people find it difficult to correct all copies of a report containing incorrect records, or records that should have been sealed or expunged.
• A handful of companies manages criminal history databases with more than 100 million criminal records. 80% of large employers conduct criminal background checks.
• Many states impose statutory bans on people with certain convictions working, for example, in nursing, childcare, and home health care – fields in which many poor women and women of color are often concentrated. People who have worked with children or the elderly for decades can find themselves abruptly disqualified due to even old and minor convictions.
• The U.S.Equal Employment Opportunity Coalition (EEOC) and some courts have held that employers’ bans on hiring people with convictions or arrests can violate Title VII of the federal Civil Rights Act of 1964 in the absence of a “business necessity,” because such bans have a disproportionate impact on people of color. Notwithstanding EEOC’s policy statements, the employment rights of people with legal histories have rarely been enforced in court.
• In addition, Hawaii statutory and state Supreme Court law prohibit firing someone because of a previous conviction unless the employer can show that the conviction is related to the job. Wright v. Home Depot, 142 P.3d 265 (Hawaii 2006).
The ACLU Women’s Rights Project, in conjunction with the ACLU of Hawaii, is launching an initiative to tackle the ways in which people with criminal records are barred from rebuilding their lives through employment.
HOW WE CAN HELP:
• Enforce individuals’ rights under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act and the EEOC's policies forbidding employers from refusing to hire ex-offenders by bringing cases to the EEOC and to the courts.
• Enforce individuals’ rights under Hawaii’s state laws forbidding employers from firing people because of a conviction that is unrelated to the job.
For more information about employment discrimination and collateral consequences, contact the ACLU Women’s Rights Project:
125 Broad Street, 18th Fl.
New York, NY 10004
DISCLAIMER: This information is general in nature and does not constitute legal advice. For legal advice, consult an attorney.
Ph.: (808)522-5900 Fax: (808)522-5909 Email: email@example.com
This is the web site of the American Civil Liberties Union of Hawaii and the ACLU of Hawaii Foundation.
Learn more about the distinction between these two components of the ACLU.