Job, Education Access for Ex-Cons Highlighted in Federal Council’s Plans

A newly released report from the Obama administration shows that more is being done to transition former felons into society.

The Federal Interagency Reentry Council, established in 2011, was tasked with creating more opportunities for those who were once incarcerated and has since increased efforts to provide this population with access to jobs, education and housing.

The Council has now released its strategic plan entitled “A Record of Progress and a Roadmap for the Future,” which focuses on the hiring practices of federal and private employers, access to Medicaid and the use of criminal records by colleges, universities and public housing authorities.

“Banning the Box,” a practice that prohibits potential employers from asking job seekers about their criminal history in the initial application, is a large part of the strategic plan.

The report points out that nearly one in three American adults have been arrested and may not have equal access to job opportunities and other things despite their qualifications. Removing that barrier, the president argues, is key to improving the lives of those looking to become contributing members of society.

“Providing incarcerated individuals with job and life skills, education programming and mental health and addiction treatment increases the likelihood that such individuals will be successful when released,” Obama said in a White House press release.

Big name companies, such as Walmart and Dropbox, recently signed up to the Council’s Fair Chance Business Pledge, which delays questions regarding the criminal history of applicants until later on in the hiring process.

More than 100 companies signed the Business Pledge earlier this month.

Jordan Frias

Jordan Frias is an editorial assistant at Boston Herald and a contributor of Spare Change News. He is vice president of the New England Chapter of the Society of Professional Journalists and a graduate of Northeastern University's School of Journalism.

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