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Overcoming Job Barriers Facing People with Disabilities who have Criminal Records Real Jobs New York Webinar September 28, 2010 PowerPoint PPT Presentation

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Overcoming Job Barriers Facing People with Disabilities who have Criminal Records Real Jobs New York Webinar September 28, 2010 . Stephan Haimowitz, J.D. Burton Blatt Institute Syracuse University [email protected] Impacts of a Criminal Record.

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Overcoming Job Barriers Facing People with Disabilities who have Criminal Records Real Jobs New York Webinar September 28, 2010

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Overcoming Job Barriers Facing People with Disabilities who have Criminal RecordsReal Jobs New York WebinarSeptember 28, 2010

Stephan Haimowitz, J.D.

Burton Blatt Institute

Syracuse University

[email protected]

Impacts of a Criminal Record

Numerous, legal and social, long-term

  • Voting, jury service

  • Credit

  • Housing

  • Child custody, foster care, adoption

  • Employment


Controversy – Employment

  • High recidivism rate vs. predicting 1 person’s behavior

  • Protecting vulnerable populations

  • Responsibilities of certain jobs

Osvaldo Hernandez

  • 2002, convicted of gun possession in NYC at age 19

    • served 6 months in jail

  • 2007-8, Army 82nd Airborne Paratrooper in Afghanistan

    • awarded numerous combat decorations and citations

Public Attention

Despite Felony, Army Vet Fights To Be A Cop

-- New York Daily News, Oct 16, 2008

Ex-GI’s Aim is Blue

Gun Felon Turned Hero Bids for Shot at NYPD

-- New York Post, Nov 11, 2008

Rethinking Impacts of a Record

N Y Judge Henry Kron - who had sent Hernandez to jail in 2002

  • The point is for someone who’s made a mistake to have a chance to reclaim their life.

    “Second Chance Act” (2008) - new direction in federal policy

    • The point is that employment reduces recidivism.

The Employment Dilemma

Applicant discloses criminal record - employer won’t hire

Worker who didn’t disclose - fired for “false job application”

More than 3 out of 4 employers do background checks

  • on legal agencies’ websites

  • from numerous private search companies

  • from the 3 national credit reporting agencies

NYS Criminal Records – Basic Terms

  • Arrest Records

  • Teenagers’ Records

  • Conviction Records

    • Crimes

      • Felony

      • Misdemeanor

    • Non-Criminal Offenses

      • Violation

      • Traffic Infraction

Arrest Records

Employers and public licensing agencies can not

  • Reject based on arrest w/o conviction

  • Ask questions about arrests

    • Exception - jobs in law enforcement.

Teenager Records

Juvenile Delinquent (JD)

  • Family court (under 16)

  • NOT a conviction

    Youthful Offender Adjudications (YO)

  • Criminal court (-19)

  • NOT a conviction


    BUT Juvenile Offender (JO)

  • Criminal court (-19)

  • IS a conviction

Strategies – Handling a Criminal Record

  • Correcting RAP Sheet Errors and Sealing Records

  • NY Law’s Requirement of Individual Consideration

  • NY Law’s Certificates of Rehabilitation (2 types)

  • Bonding Program & Employer Tax Credits

  • Preparation for Job Applications & Interviews

RAP Sheet Errors

RAP created if person is arrested and fingerprinted

Over 87% of NY RAP sheets contain mistakes.

  • Grade (felony vs. misdemeanor is wrong

  • Charges are listed more than once

  • Disposition is not reported

    Why it matters

  • Sometimes, all charges were dropped.

  • Even if conviction, often only for some and /or less serious charges

  • If disposition not present, employer will assume that charges are pending

    Request for Record Review” Form

    Division of Criminal Justice Services (518) 485-7675


Sealing Records

  • Arrests not ending in Conviction Can be Sealed

    • Starting in 1991, automatically sealed

  • Convictions formostNon-Criminal Offenses Can be Sealed

    • Violation

    • Traffic Infraction

  • BUT Convictions for Crimes Can Not be Sealed

    • Felony

    • Misdemeanor

  • NYS’ Corrections Law Article 23-A

    • Prohibits Most “we don’t hire offenders” policies

      • covers hiring & retention decisions

      • summary must be conspicuously posted and given to applicants

    • Applies to

      • public employers

      • public licensing agencies

      • private employers (more than 10 employees)

    • Requires individualized assessment of qualifications and

    23(a) --- Individualized Assessment

    • age at time of the offense, any mitigating circumstances

    • seriousness of offense

    • time elapsed and record since the offense

    • rehabilitation efforts and outcomes

    • how the crime relates to the specific job or license

    23(a) Employers’ Liability Concerns

    • Art 23-A provides some protection from “negligent hiring” lawsuits

    • By barring evidence of the worker’s prior conviction

    • If employer had followed Art 23-A in good faith

    Fair Credit Reporting Act

    Under the federal law

    • If an employer plans to take “adverse action” based even in part on a credit report, he/she must give the person –

      • a copy of the report

      • a Summary of Consumer Rights, including how to fix errors

        before taking that action


    NYS’ 2 Certificates of Rehabilitation

    • “Certificate of Relief from Civil Disabilities”

      • 1 Felony & any # of Misdemeanors

        Can include convictions in other jurisdictions

      • Can get Immediately upon conviction

        From sentencing judge or Division of Parole

    • “Certificate of Good Conduct”

      • Multiple Felonies & any # of Misdemeanors

      • Waiting Period C,D or E felony - 3 years A or B felony - 5 years From Division of Parole

    Federal Bonding Program

    Encourages employers to hire “at risk” individuals

    • Ex-offenders Ex-addicts who’ve been rehabilitated

    • Program information http://www.bonds4jobs.com/index.html

      Covers loss up to $ 25K loss from employee dishonesty

    • Does not cover poor workmanship, injury, work accidents, etc

    • Established in 1966, 99% success rate

      Free to employer for 6 months, no deductable

    • Relatively simple application process – need full time job offer with starting date

    • After 6 months employer can continue coverage by paying premiums

      NYS Coordinator Elaine Kost 518-485-2151 [email protected]

    Special NYS Rules

    • Unlicensed health care staff

      • NYS Dept of Health – state and federal record checks

    • Places serving alcohol

      • Waiver is available from NYS Liquor Authority

    • Commercial Drivers License

      • Hazardous Materials Endorsement

    Limited Driver’s License

    Keeping a Driver's License DURING Prosecution

    Hardship Privilege which permits driving to/from work, school/and/or doctor

    Conditional License AFTER Conviction

    Person can drive to / from /during:


    certain other activities

    Must complete Drinking Driver Program http://www.nydmv.state.ny.us/broch/c40.htm

    7 sessions, 1 / week, each 2-3 hrs


    Tax Credits for Employers

    Federal Work Opportunity Tax Credit $2,400


    NYS Workers with Disabilities Tax Credit $2,100


    Using These Strategies

    How To Get and Clean Up Your New York State Rap Sheet

    Free online - http://www.hirenetwork.org/pdfs/NYS_Rap_Sheet_Final.pdf

    Employment Discrimination and What to Do About It

    Guide for NY Counselors of Individuals in Recovery from Alcohol and Drug Dependence, and Ex-Offenders

    Free online - http://www.hirenetwork.org/pdfs/Employment%20discrimination%20(NY).pdf

    Legal Action Center

    225 Varick St. New York, NY 10014

    (212) 243-1313 http://www.hirenetwork.org

    Assistance >>>> Preparation

    • Advocacy Organizations

      • HIRE, Legal Services, Public Defenders, Prisoner’s Rights

    • Veterans Organizations

      • vets who are lawyers may help “pro bono” (free)

    • Google / Bing, etc “expunge New York criminal records”

      • private lawyers who will provide representation for a fee

    • A lawyer helps but isn’t required, preparation is . . .

    Job Applications & Interviews

    • Prepare to handle the criminal record question

      • Do not leave application question blank or say “will discuss at interview”

      • Do practice interviews (vets in that business)

    • Answer what is asked truthfully, and know

      • Differences – Crime (felony, misdemeanor) vs. Non – criminal offense

      • Conviction includes suspended sentence, probation, fines, etc.

    • Give a summary of what happened

      • Be brief, accept responsibility

    Job Applications & Interviews (cont.)

    • Fully explain what’s changed & provide documentation

      • Military service

      • Rehabilitation / treatment

      • Education / work

      • Community service / church involvement

  • Provide Federal Bonding information

    • State coordinator’s name, phone and email

    • Program form and description

  • If not hired, send a letter recounting the above

  • Economic Independence Programs

    • Self employment assistance

      • Business plan development, financial consultation and training -- from experts

    • For more information

      • Start-Up NY

        • Syracuse University, Burton Blatt Institute

        • http://bbi.syr.edu/projects/startup_ny/

      • Entrepreneurship Bootcamp for Vets with Disabilities

        • SU’s Whitman School of Management and 5 other universities

        • http://whitman.syr.edu/ebv/

    Economic Independence Programs

    • New York Makes Work Pay

      • SU’s BBI, Cornell, New York State

        • Customized Employment

        • Benefits Management, Tax Assistance, Individual Development

        • Financial Literacy

        • http://www.ilr.cornell.edu/edi/nymakesworkpay/index.cfm

    Slowing the “Revolving Door” Programs

    • Human services - criminal justice collaboration

      • agencies often struggle serving many of the same people

      • employment a key element in recovery

      • http://mentalhealth.samhsa.gov/cmhs/CommunitySupport/toolkits/employment/

    • Diversion

      • getting people into treatment services

      • SAMHSA funds a range of program models (800) 311-GAIN

      • National GAINS Center http://www.gainscenter.samhsa.gov/html/

    Positive Signs

    • Ban the Box Ordinances – public employment

      • Eliminate “Have you been . . . “ from job application

      • Minnesota, San Francisco, Chicago, Baltimore New Haven, Portland

      • Some extend to contractors

    • State Initiatives

      • MA bill shortens waiting periods to seal records - Governor supports it

      • Federal “2nd Chance Act” – new national policy

        • Successful reentry is in the public interest

    The Reality

    • Escaping criminal justice involvement – possible, but difficult

    • Making the effort can have significant benefits

    Frank McFarren

    Unique Auto Body Whitehall, NY (518) 642-2945

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