" A Consortium of Thinkers Advancing Equal Justice Under Law"
The Institute's mission is to engage diverse stakeholders, including collaboration with the business and law enforcement communities, to advance equal justice in various ways: e.g., voter registration and civic engagement for people with felonies and their families, academic support for justice reform legislative agendas, training people with criminal records in social justice careers, including grant writing, lobbying and advocacy, and creation of programs like Amici Curiae for People with Criminal Records, Community-based Paralegal Clinics for People with Criminal Records, a Victim's Rights and Relations Initiative, and the social welfare organization- The People with Criminal Records Lobby.
Background and Overview:
People with criminal records are the most politically unrepresented and most discriminated class of people and constituency left in this country. There are approximately 92 million of us. Read more.
Absent a pardon from the President of the United States or a Governor, there is no such thing as an "ex-felon." The nasty but often used terms "ex-offender" or worse yet "ex-con," evoke all the wrong images and sentiments because they leave no room in their message for the capacity of most human beings to reform our character, rehabilitate ourselves, and become productive, employed, tax-paying members of our communities and supporters of our families who need us.
Most people with criminal records are unaware of the significant and potentially lifelong collateral consequences that confront them long after they have paid their legal dues to society by serving a prison or probation sentence.
With some exceptions, America's federal civil rights laws, and all but a few of the fifty states' human rights or fair employment laws, and a few municipal ordinances, allow employers to refuse employment to people with criminal records – who have paid their dues to society – for no other reason than their past criminal convictions; no matter how unrelated to a potential job one's conviction may be, and without regard for whether something like a one-time non-violent offense was committed in one's youth or long ago.
The evidence is undeniable that access to employment for people with criminal records dramatically reduces recidivism, rehabilitates and rebuilds families and heals communities. Yet, in America, employment discrimination against people with criminal records, is for the most part, perfectly legal.
Where will people with criminal records work upon their reentry from prison or upon completion of a probation sentence? How will people with criminal records satisfy parole or probation obligations that require employment, if employment discrimination against them is legal? How will people with criminal records who cannot find work avoid more crime and repeated incarceration? Most cannot and do not. Most return to prison.
Currently, in America, we spend more money on prisons and prisoners than we spend on education. America, the land of the free, has the highest percentage of incarcerated citizens than any nation on earth.