U.S. Attorney’s Office Focuses on Reducing Barriers to Reentry and Employment During Employment Summit
Employer Summit Wraps Up National Reentry Week Events in North Texas
DALLAS — This afternoon, as part of its efforts during National Reentry Week, the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Northern District of Texas hosted an Employer Summit, entitled “Employers Investing in Community Prosperity,” in Arlington, Texas, to highlight the benefits of hiring the formerly incarcerated, announced U.S. Attorney John Parker of the Northern District of Texas.
“Finding a job even without a conviction can be challenging, but for those being released from prison, it can be almost impossible,” said U.S. Attorney Parker. “Regardless of the severity of their crime, recently released individuals often find that their past criminal record can be tantamount to a life sentence of low wages, underemployment, and poverty. We all have a vested interest in ensuring that those who are genuinely motivated to rebuild their lives after release have the tools and legitimate opportunities to do so.”
As part of National Reentry Week, the Administration has taken a series of steps to reform the federal approach to reentry by addressing barriers to reentry, supporting state and local efforts to do the same, and engaging the private sector to provide individuals who have earned a second chance the opportunity to participate in the American economy.
At this afternoon’s Employer Summit, representatives from the U.S. Attorney’s Office, the Department of Labor, the Texas Offender Reentry Initiative, and the Texas Workforce Investment Council provided information to employers to assist them in navigating the hiring process for the formerly incarcerated. Information was also furnished about the steps that federal, state, and local governments are taking to reduce barriers to employment for formerly incarcerated individuals, as well as information concerning the benefits, such as available tax incentives, of hiring the formerly incarcerated.
Just today, President Obama signed a Presidential Memorandum establishing the Federal Interagency Reentry Council to lead the Government’s work on the rehabilitation and reintegration of individuals returning to their communities from prisons and jails. For five years, the Attorney General has successfully led the Cabinet-level working group; this memorandum will build on that success and ensure the federal government will continue this important work.
The Administration is taking specific steps to reduce barriers to employment for formerly incarcerated individual. As brief examples:
- The Office of Personnel Management (OPM) is publishing a proposed rule that would prohibit federal agencies from asking questions about criminal and credit history to applicants for jobs in the competitive service and the career senior executive service, until a conditional offer of employment has been made.
The Presidential Memorandum directs all agencies to review their procedures for conducting a suitability determination for a job applicant with a criminal record.
The Presidential Memorandum directs all agencies with discretion to grant or deny occupational licenses to ensure that a criminal record is not an automatic disqualifier.
Today’s Employer Summit concluded a busy National Reentry Week in north Texas in which the U.S. Attorney’s Office sponsored and coordinated several events to raise awareness of the importance of reentry work. On Monday, U.S. Attorney Parker welcomed approximately 300 attendees at the 2016 Reentry Symposium in Dallas, and on Tuesday, staff members from the U.S. Attorney’s Office joined Bureau of Prisons (BOP) staff at Federal Correctional Institute (FCI) Fort Worth to participate in a Reentry Simulation that offered FCI inmates an opportunity to experience, first-hand, what it is like to be a newly-released offender. On Wednesday, the U.S. Attorney’s Office participated in a Reentry Information Fair at the Federal Medical Center (FMC) Carswell in Fort Worth, where representatives from area service providers and community groups provided information and resources to assist inmates in overcoming reentry barriers they may encounter in employment, medical care, public assistance, identification and housing. On Wednesday evening in Dallas, and on Thursday evening in Fort Worth, hundreds of recently-released state parolees/probationers attended the U.S. Attorney’s Office Project Safe Neighborhood (PSN) Probation/Parole Reentry Sessions. At each of these monthly sessions, staff from the U.S. Attorney’s Office, and others from local, state and federal law enforcement, emphasize federal firearms laws and ensure attendees are aware of available social services.
Earlier this week, Attorney General Loretta E. Lynch announced new reforms to strengthen the BOP, including the “Roadmap to Reentry,” the Department’s comprehensive vision to reduce recidivism through reentry reforms at the BOP.
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