President Obama Wants To Give Former Prison Inmates A Second Chance

The federal government will no longer ask job applicants about their criminal record in an attempt to curb hiring and housing bias against ex-cons.

President Barack Obama, The Box Bias

President Barack Obama has just done something spectacular to help the formerly incarnated.

It’s no secret that the flawed criminal justice system in the United States makes it fairly hard for ex-cons to get a good job. The former felons, particularly the ones convicted of minor crimes in their late teen years, pay the price of their momentary lapse in judgment, their entire life by having all their career prospects being crushed in front of them.

All the job forms – both in the private and government sector – inquire if the applicant has a prior criminal record, and if someone marks the little box right next to the question, their chances of getting the job are almost close to zero.

Civil and human rights groups have been advocating to “ban the box” movement for quite some time now, and it looks their wish is finally coming true.

President Obama recently announced two measures aimed at making it easier for people who have been to prison, or are just getting out, to find their footing in the outside world.

Speaking in Newark, New Jersey, the president noted that about 600,000 federal and state inmates are released each year, but their criminal record disqualifies them from being a full participant in the society.

“There’s people who have been through tough times. They’ve made mistakes. But with a little help they can get on the right path,” Obama said at the Integrity House drug treatment center. “We can’t dismiss people out of hand simply because of a mistake that they made in the past.”

Read More: Mentally Ill Inmates Are Dying A Slow, Agonizing Death In U.S. Jails

jobs cuts, obama

The president’s announcement coincided with the early release of 6,000 drug offenders, whose sentences were shortened due to the changes in federal sentencing guidelines.

The first measure involves the acceptation of the grants to pay for job-training programs and housing for the ex-cons, while the second will prevent the federal offices from asking job applicants about their criminal records until after their qualifications are evaluated.

About 60 to 75 percent of former inmates cannot find work within the first year out of jail, according to the Justice Department. Therefore, Obama’s latest proposal appears to be a welcomed and widely awaited reform in the criminal system that does more harm than good to the inmates.

“I went to prison when I was 18 for some dumb sh-- I pulled and spent a few years there,” wrote a Reddit user. “Whenever I see younger kids acting stupid or thuggish I try to explain to them that prison is nothing. Any moron can make it through prison. You’re not really punished until you get out and can't get a decent job because of your record or even rent a decent apartment because they won't rent to people with a record. It's a hell of a price to pay.”

Along with banning the bias against hiring and housing of former prison inmates, the president also discussed how “giving former prisoners a second chance in life is the right thing to do.”

Watch president discussing the “rehabilitation and reintegration of formerly incarcerated individuals” in the video below:

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