MA Ex-Cons Still Face Tough Job Market Despite Law Change


The fortunes of former convicts seeking employment have changed little since the passage of a 2010 Massachusetts law that overhauled the state's criminal records system, says a new report from the Boston Foundation and the Crime and Justice Institute at Community Resources for Justice quoted by the Boston Globe. The study compiled the experiences of 28 employers, advocates, criminal records officials, landlords, and legislators. It gives a first look at the real-world effects of changes to the Criminal Offender Record Information system, widely known by the acronym CORI, which had been lauded by activists as a game-changer for people with criminal records looking to reintegrate into society.

The law's “Ban the Box'' provision prevents employers from asking about criminal records on initial job applications. That has allowed more former convicts to get interviews, but has seldom translated into jobs, the report said. “Advocates felt that this only delays the process of rejection and leaves people with a [criminal record] feeling more hopeless,'' the report said. “The barrier to employment has simply shifted from the application to the interview.'' Len Engel of the Crime and Justice Institute said the report highlights the need for government and employers to better police and adhere to changes in the criminal record system. It shows the importance of educating former offenders about their rights under the new legislation, he said.

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