On May 21st, the Austin City Council passed a resolution to consider requiring private employers in Austin to follow fair chance hiring practices. Council Member Greg Casar introduced the item, co-sponsored by Mayor Steve Adler, Mayor Pro Tem Kathie Tovo and Council Member Ora Houston. The resolution directs the City Manager to provide staff support for a stakeholder process to develop language for potential policies to promote delaying inquiry into conviction history until later in the employment hiring process for private-sector employers. The resolution also directs the stakeholder group to consider the National Employment Law Project recommended ordinance language as a baseline draft for a citywide fair chance policy, and to consider policy options for employers contracting with the City and employers participating under a Chapter 380 Economic Development Agreement.
The Roundtable is listed as a member of the proposed stakeholder group in the resolution, along with a number of other area business associations, service providers and advocacy groups. The Roundtable was a key partner in community conversations in 2007/2008 that led to Travis County and later the City of Austin changing their employment applications so that job applicants no longer have to disclose their criminal history during the initial phase of the employment application process. We are proud that our city and county are leaders on this issue. Now is the time to discuss how our community can continue to set the bar even higher in order to support more stable families, safer communities and less public assistance debt to taxpayers.
One Strike and You’re Out: How We can Eliminate Barriers to Economic Security and Mobility for People with Criminal Records
A new report by the Center for American Progress, “One Strike and You’re Out: How We can Eliminate Barriers to Economic Security and Mobility for People with Criminal Records”, reveals the barriers that Americans with criminal records face in accessing employment, housing, public assistance, education, family reunification, and more, and how the challenges associated with having a criminal record actually come at great cost to the U.S. economy. One recent study finds that our nation’s poverty rate would have dropped by 20 percent between 1980 and 2004 if not for mass incarceration and the subsequent criminal records that haunt people for years after they have paid their debt to society. Estimates put the cost of employment losses among people with criminal records at as much as $65 billion per year in terms of gross domestic product. This report explains how all levels of government (local, state, and federal), employers, and academic institutions can work to ensure that criminal records do not lead to structural racism and poverty.