~ RESTORING ECONOMIC RIGHTS FOR EX-OFFENDERS ~

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More than 600,000 people are released from prison in the United States each year, and a great many of them return to their families and communities with complex and challenging needs. Prisoners reentering society are often suffering from substance use problems, mental illnesses and health concerns. They must navigate social service systems to find housing, jobs and support. And too often, recently released prisoners find themselves once again incarcerated.

“I have been clean now for 16 years and six months with God’s help, and I am trying to stay that way, but with no help for people who have compromised the contract of life it is very hard not to go back to that way of life. I want people to realize that is why people do time, get out and do it again. They can’t survive any other way.”

Virtually every felony conviction carries with it a life sentence. Upon being released from prison, ex-offenders face a vast and increasing maze of mandatory exclusions from valuable social programs and employment opportunities that impede their hopes of success in the free world. These exclusions range from restrictions on the ability to get a driver’s license to a lifetime ban on eligibility for federal welfare. In adopting this array of civil disabilities, federal, state and municipal governments have endorsed a social policy that condemns ex-offenders to a diminished social and economic status, and for many, a life of crime. Recently the American Bar Association concluded that the dramatic increase in the numbers of persons convicted and imprisoned means that this half-hidden network of legal barriers affects a growing proportion of the populace. More people convicted inevitably means more people who will ultimately be released from prison or supervision, and who must either successfully reenter society or be at risk of reoffending. If not administered in a sufficiently deliberate manner, a regime of collateral consequences may frustrate the reentry and rehabilitation of this population, and encourage recidivism.

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To: Congressman Mark Takano

      Democrat from California, District 41

      1507 Longworth House Office Building

      Washington, DC

 From: Aaron and Maymie Chandler-Pratt

            Second Chance Alliance Re-entry Program Founders

 To Whom It May Concern;

My name is Maymie Chandler-Pratt and my husband’s name is Aaron. Together we advocate against the hiring practices used to discriminate against ex-offenders.

This bill proposal created in 2013 is here-by updated on this 13th day of July in the year 2015, on the behalf of the ex-offenders in the world who “really” desire an opportunity to become employed but are not the opportunity because of their criminal background.

This bill proposal was given to Congressman Mark Takano, who informed us that he had taken it to his Washington, DC office for review therefore, in light of the Presidents, decision to grant pardons to the 46 ex-offenders recently and on behalf of the millions of other ex-offenders who are being released or have already been released, we hereby re-submit this bill proposal for review of those modifications as stipulated in the proposal.

If this bill proposal is granted, it is our belief that it will help to reduce that rate of recidivism which would in turn help to reduce the prison population. It is also our belief that with the creation of re-entry programs that are directly connected to employers willing to hire ex-offenders that this will also help them to recreate themselves and become law abiding citizens once again and can make a positive imprint on society instead of a negative one.

It is our hope that someone will take a look at this proposal that was written two years ago and placed in the hands of someone whom we felt would be able to get it reviewed. Now that the President has started to release more ex-offenders back into society there is going to become a greater need for jobs, housing and retraining.

In prison an inmate is given the opportunity to work and not for minimum wage but for an amount much lower that minimum wage (i.e.,  .08 cents to .36 cents) an hour. Our belief is this; if inmates can be hired within the prisons to work in the same types of jobs in society, then why are businesses still so reluctant to hire ex-offenders who have no violent crime history? The way that it stands today, those men and women who were pardoned and released have a better chance of getting hired than the millions of others that are trying to get a job so that they can survive and thrive in society and not return to prison.

Please help us to get this bill reviewed and passed so that we together can start to rebuild our country by employing ex-offenders, who can by working, pay into social security and reduce crime and reduce the rate of recidivism.

Thank you for your consideration of this matter and I look to hear from you soon. Our home phone number is 951-357-2572 and the cell is 951-210-8246.

Sincerely Submitted,

Aaron and Maymie Chandler-Pratt

Second Chance Alliance Re-entry Program Founders

Bill Proposal: Advocates against Felon Employment Discrimination Act

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SENATE OR HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES OF THE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA

Introduced by: Advocates against Felon Employment Discrimination

Primary Sponsor: Maymie Chandler-Pratt

Secondary Sponsor: Aaron D. Pratt

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  1. The purpose of this bill is to stop the employment discrimination of felons throughout the United States and to modify the hiring wait times from 7 to 10 years, to a more reasonable wait time of 1 to 2 years or less depending on the crime committed.
  2. The (Senate or House of Representatives) of the United States of America hereby enacts as follows:
  3. SECTION 1
  4. This act shall be known as the Advocates against Felon Employment Discrimination Act
  5. SECTION 2
  6. Reinstate people with felonies their right to work, and modify the hiring requirements in
  7. companies from the unrealistic term of 7 to 10 years to 1 to 2 years for ex-offenders who are 8. willing and able to earn an honest living wage and are skilled in those areas of work.
  8. SECTION 3
  9. Require companies to hire people with felonies after a period of 1 to 2 years after said
  10. person has completed parole and has successfully complied with terms of release presented
  11. by the parole board; (Drug Rehabilitation, boarding house residency, random drug testing) 13. and have demonstrated a desire to work by enrolling in classes to improve their work skills 14. and their moral turpitude.
  12. SECTION 4:
  13. Require companies to at least have bonding agents and resources within the HR department
  14. which will allow companies to be compensated with tax write offs as an incentive to hire ex-18. offenders
  15. SECTION 5: Funding
  16. The cost of the implications of this proposal should not exceed the amount of $1,000,000.00 21. dollars.
  17. Funding for this bill will come partly from the Advocates against Felon Employment
  18. Discrimination Act fundraising committee and participating government programs.
  19. SECTION 6: Regulations
  20. The EEOC has historically taken the position that an employer’s policy or practice of
  21. excluding individuals from employment because they have criminal conviction record is
  22. unlawful under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 unless the policy or practice is
  23. justified by a business necessity. If the information was erroneous or the conviction was not
  24. job-related, employees and applicants have a right to file a discrimination claim with their 30.state equal employment opportunity agency. The government will impose sanctions on 31.companies which are offering employment that have no direct correlation with the crime that 32.was committed by person’s applying for a job if they don’t hire a person with a felony on 33.their background that is older than 1 to 2 years. For most offenders it is difficult to prove that 34.a possible employer illegally discriminated 35.against them even with an expungement. In 35.California an individual’s criminal history is 36.never erased, but rather erases the word
  25. “conviction” and replaces it with “dismissed in 37.Furtherance of Justice” in the disposition.
  26. Constitutional issues:
  27. The Fourteenth Amendment to the United States Constitution explicitly permits felon
  28. disenfranchisement, but it has been pointed out that constitutional approval of felons’ 40.political powerlessness is not the same as constitutional approval of government prejudice 41.toward the politically powerless. Such prejudice may violate the Equal Protection Clause, 42.which contains no provision authorizing discrimination against felons. A “discrete and 43.insular” minority subject to prejudice, in particular, may be considered particularly vulnerable 44.to oppression by the majority, and thus a suspect class worthy of protection by the judiciary. 45. SECTION 7: Penalties
  29. The penalties for not hiring a person with felonies older than 2 to 5 years on their background
  30. and who are willing to work and are skilled in that field or position will be a fine of $5000.00
  31. dollars and or if the information was erroneous or the conviction was not job-related,
  32. employees and applicants information was erroneous or the conviction was not job-related,
  33. employees and applicants have a right to file a discrimination claim with their state equal
  34. employment opportunity agency. If a felon is bonded by a company and hired on, and is later 52. found to not be in compliance with the bonding agreement he/she shall be terminated.
  35. SECTION 8: Definitions
  36. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission:
  37. The U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) is a federal law
  38. enforcement agency that enforces laws against job discrimination. The EEOC investigates
  39. discrimination complaints based on an individual’s race, color, national origin, religion, sex,
  40. age, disability, genetic information and retaliation for reporting, participating in and/or
  41. opposing a discriminatory practice. The EEOC also mediates and settles thousands of
  42. discrimination complaints each year prior to their investigation. The EEOC is also
  43. empowered to file discrimination suits against employers on behalf of alleged victims and to
  44. adjudicate claims of discrimination brought against federal agencies.
  45. Moral turpitude: A legal concept in the United States that refers to conduct that is
  46. considered contrary to the community’s standard of justice, honesty and good morals. As of 64. 1998, seven states absolutely barred felons from public employment. Other states had more 65. narrow restrictions for instance, only covering infamous crimes or felonies involving moral 66.turpitude.
  47. Over inclusive: relating to legislation that burdens more people than necessary to accomplish
  48. the legislation’s goal. Some laws have been criticized for being over inclusive; for instance, a
  49. law banning all ex-offenders from working in health care jobs could prevent a person
  50. convicted of bribery or shoplifting from sweeping the halls of a hospital. The law in Texas
  51. requires that employers consider things like the nature and seriousness of the crime, the
  52. amount of time since the person’s committed the crime, and letters of recommendation all be
  53. taken into account even when the applicant has a felony.
  54. SECTION 9: Effective Date
  55. This bill shall take effect approximately and at a minimum of 1 year after passage before the
  56. law is implemented.

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This bill is not asking that the hiring requirements be abolished totally, but that they are modified from the unrealistic 7 to 10 year wait in order to be eligible for “legal” employment, to a more realistic waiting time requirement of 1 to 2 years or less depending on the crime committed.

Thank you,

Aaron and Maymie Chandler-Pratt

Second Chance Alliance Re-entry Program Founders

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