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tv   Inside Story  Al Jazeera  May 15, 2015 2:00am-2:31am EDT

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so they don't have to pay them part time and that is our show for today. i'm ali velshi, thank you for joining next. [ ♪♪ ] you've been convicted of a crime. and you've done your time. when you fill out job applications, there it is. the box that asks - have you crime. tell the truth, and the odds are pretty good, you won't get the job. ex-inmates say it would help them restart their lives and stay out of gaol if companies would just bend the box. it's tonight's "inside story".
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welcome to "inside story". i'm ray suarez. for a long time we know those that spend time behind bars are likely to get in trouble again. advocates ask if we are serious about lowing recidivism rates, should we force people to disclose history at the front door of getting work. crime rates are lower, inmate populations huge, creating conditions for a most to ban the box. seattle. >> reporter: here is a peak inside one of the washington state's largest turn key manufacturers in aerospace. take a deeper look past the assembly lines of sheet metal and you'll find former convict
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working side by side with original employees. >> there is a place for justice, we need a place for redemption as explains... >> this is a chance for change. it's been that way for 50 years. lee was one of the most vocal advocates pushing for a ban the box ordinances. while they hire a large personnel of people that it trains, too many had a difficult time getting else. >> oftentimes if you check the box, the employer takes the trash. they don't look at it. so we can tell our clients that the employer is not going to put your application in the trash, they'll look at it.
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then our client has hope that they'll have the opportunity to tell the story and get the job. work. >> dick tells you it's not been that simple. >> is that an automatic entry that you'll get the job? >> no. you still have to be qualified and demonstrate that you are the best candidate. it is designed to get the foot in the door so you have a chance to consider it. >> conviction career, a non profit - and here ex-cons are taught what to do and say after they get a call for an interview. that's when an employer can and will ask about a criminal record. you can tell if someone is likely to do the job. most are looking at parliamentary issues. how do you fit in, will i need to monitor everything that you do, will you work independently, will you get along with everyone
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or cause trouble. >> we want people to demonstrate they'll be a great fit. >> the city of seatal can't say if more -- seattle can't say if more ex-convicts have had more success. investigators will do this by searching through job application forms and fielding complaints. marquez taylor is a success story. he served time at 18 for robbery. two years ago he got a job with year up, a community resource programme, after being denied for more than 100 jobs. >> when you fill out so many job application, and hear the same thing, it makes you want to turn back to a life of recidivism. make you want to commit creams. he is still with year up, and believes the ban the box
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ordnants played a key role. >> it cost us $30 grand a year for someone to be ipp gars rated, and that doesn't include of cost of catching, and holding someone. it cuts recidivism by half. a similar bill failed in the washington legislature. lee is not deterred. by having the law there may be an employer who says it's the law, i guess we'll comply, and they'll change. >> the road to redemption starts with the opportunity to work. joining me now from montgomery alabama, ms mitts and ms ricketts. after their time they cofounded a group designed to help people re-entering the workforce. a lot of people probably don't
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realise how hard it is wowed ban the box, to re-enter. tell us your own story, was it community? community. >> yes, it was hard, almost impossible to get a job. when i applied. they'd listen to me talk, then hire me and tell me they couldn't keep me because i had been incarcerated. >> was lying an option? >> yes, i could have done that, but i felt like - i didn't answer the box. i said i would explain in person, but never got a chance to explain in person, because they knew. >> melinda, how about you, did you find it diff to be honest about what you had been through. >> yes, i did. when i first got out i ploied for a training programme at an automotive manufacturer and i went through the interview
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process, and they asked me where i had been, i was hon. . they closed the interview down and total me thank you for applying, but we cape use you. >> did you start the business because it was hard to get a job any other way? >> why we start the business, we had to work. prison. we had to eat, we had to clothe ourselves. we started the business to take care of ourselves. as it grew we wanted to give it back to the community and those coming behind us, giving them an opportunity to work. >> i want to assume that you don't have the box on your employment applications when rest. >> no, we do not. >> what do you want to know? >> i don't want to do anything, other than are they a hard
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worker, do they want to maintain employment and make a better place for themselves in society, because if they are ready to maining the change, we are ready to give -- ready to make the change, we are ready to give them employment. >> are there just things about the work life that you are no longer as familiar with - showing up on time. getting yourself from place to place, because for years you've been told where to be, and when to be there. >> yes, that's very debilitating for an individual. when i got out it was like i was afraid to go too far from my dwelling because i was taut to stay close to the building, not to what happeneder off. it made it very, very hard. technology stands still inside the prison walls. when you get out and the technology evolves. you don't know what a kiosk is
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to ny for a job. it makes it difficult. it is mind boggling, that's the reason that we give life skills in training to help these people. to get the social security, use a cellphone, laptop, computers. that's why we do this. >> if you are a home opener and hiring a cut above to put in a laup, do your hedges, redo the backyard, would you want to know if the men and women have been convicted for breaking and entering, convicted property? >> no. as a home owner, as long as you maintain my yard the way that we are under contract to do, i don't have a problem with you as a company. >> no one asked who are the people. can i be sure if everything is
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going to be okay if i hire you? >> no, because myself and juanita are always there. if they have a problem, and it's never a problem with our employees, but if they have a certain way they want us to do their hedges or whatever, they i is there a difference in work product, reliability, punctuality, honesty and willingness to put in a day's work between those you higher that are not ex-offenders and those that are. >> i'm glad you asked that, yes there's a difference, ex-offenders have to prove themselves, being late is not an possession. it's not proing that you want the job. there's someone on line wanting the job. i don't play games with my people. i teach them well, how to perform their duties and expect
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them to carry out the task. >> can people who come to work for you get trapped because you are willing to take them on, but then the next place they go after making a successful re-entry, have got a couple of years under their belt. the next place still has the box and still will ask if they've been convicted of a crime. >> i don't believe it's trapped. if they don't ban the box they'll have to answer the question. if they've got a reference "i've worked for this person for out. i'm applying to your company, will you give me app opportunity, we geoff letters of references to people that worked hard and do what they are supposed to do. it makes it easier if you have worked for someone, and you have
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a proven record. the majority of team do not want to reoffend. but without a job or a place to live or an acceptance into society, there's nothing to prevent them reoffending. it's the only way they can five. >> has it been a bridge into other employment for people coming on to the streets? >> yes, it has. first we were in huntsville, and now we have moved to montgomery because we are opening a nonprofit at the montgomery. all the workers that did not want to move with us, we gave them letters of reference, and they all have employment with loan care companies, locally in huntsville. now that we are in montgomery we are running a nonprofit. >> founders and owners of a cut above themselves lawn service
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and landscaping join me from mont gomer i alabama thank you for sharing your soreies. the box made it tough. so you can see why they favour beening the box. is that a one size fit all solution. are there certain employers, service, where the customer would want to know if a wokker was incarcerated. we'll hash that out on employers and employment law. it's snds. -- it's "inside story". >> my name is imran garda the show is called third rail, when you watch this show you're gonna find us being un-afraid. the topics will fascinate you, intrigue you... >> let me quote you... >> there's a double standard... >>...could be a hypocrite >> you're also gonna get a show that's really fair bold... never predictable... >> the should be worried about heart disease, not terrorism... >> i wouldn't say that at all... >> you'll see a show that has an impact on the conventional wisdom that goes where
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nobody else goes... >> my name is imran garda i am the host of third rail and you can find it on al jazeera america >> al jazeera america, weekday mornings. catch up on what happened overnight with a full morning brief. get a first hand look with in-depth reports and investigations. start weekday mornings with al jazeera america. open your eyes to a world in motion.
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tonight on nd, we are -- "inside story," we are talking about banning the box, allowing convicts not to disclose their trouble with the law by ticking that bomb. i am joined by a -- that box. i'm joined by a couple of guests. if we banned the box, would this allow ex-offenders to permanently put that conviction into the memory hole, or just take it off the opening encounter, the first threshold meeting with a prospective employer. >> rite, you know, i think what you are referring to is what is a misunderstanding. when people here ban the box, they are thinking "i can never find out information about a conviction history." it's not the case. it's delaying the inquiry until later. the reason it's important is
quote
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because it gives job applicants a real fupt opportunity to show they are qualified so an employer can look at a person. that's what this is about. >> do we know. is there any way to know whether that one thing, making it a second tier question, rather than a first tier one changes the outcome when n ex-offender gets a job. >> absolutely. it has taken off. there are 16 states, and over 100 cities and counties that had a policy in pleas. we sn see from evidence that it works. north carolina, there the coalition for social justice worked with the city and county and found numbers increased. that is good for the local
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community and economy. >> during the day your members probably interviewed thousands. where does that fit? a person's record, in the range of things you want to know about job. >> it depends on the business and the industry. ban the box policies are not good policies, because it's the one size fits all. in certain businesses you'll want to know the situation sooner. i'll give you the situation with the contractor, you are hiring a sheet rocker, you are sending someone into a home. your business is on the line. if that sheet rocker goes in and steels something, i think you would want to know that sooner rather than later and have a candid conversation. >> in the knew of your members, this is a legitimate inquiry about someone's pass. >> it is.
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small businesses should have the same right to ask that question on that application that we want league. >> at a time when there's a lot of people unemployed and underemployed. does it mean that you'll go to the bottom of the pile? >> absolutely not. i have talked with business owners willing to give conflicts, felons a second chance, because they may have had issues with the law. your first two guests were admirable as to - i love to see entrepreneurial success. there are members i represent in the same boat. they are willing to give the individuals a second chance. in certain industries and businesses, you need to be careful. if you run a charity, day care - those employers need to know sooner, look at the job application and know it's
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about. >> how about that? >> well, a couple of things there. i want to point out that this is a problem that is tremendous. we have an estimated $70 million people with an arrest or conviction record across the country. that's what the national employment law project estimated. we need to join toot about the problem. is can't just be still rights, labour organizations, we need businesses come to the fore, i have seen small business owners point out in other states across the country saying small business owners support ban the box too, it's the right thing to do for their community. they understand if we have an economy that works for everyone, people sentenced to a life sentence of joblessness, it is not good for anyone, small or big businesses. >>
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thank you both - how do you balance giving people who made a mistake with the misgivings of those who say a history of arrest and conviction shouldn't be hidden from an employers' view. banning the box - tonight's "inside story".
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welcome back to "inside story". we are debating banning the box on employment, a box forcing job seekers to reveal past convictions or incarcerations. melinda and michelle rodriguez are still with us. crimes plot out on a broad continuum, a yes-no gisent give you a chance to -- doesn't give
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you a chance to plot out that it may not be that scary. >> you are right. that is why a good job application will have a yes-no, but room for an explanation. you know, what was the crime, when did it occur. when i talk with business owners i reiterate how important it is to make individualized assessments. you shut not discount someone checking off "i have a conviction conviction". what is the crime? a lot of business owners like to have that conversation. chance. they want to look the individual in the eye. >> before the break, it was pointed out how many tens of millions have this problem. this is not just a recidivism lowering social welfare project. this is something with severe economic consequences. if the futures of tens of millions of people are hindered. >> i appreciate that.
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but to put this in the back of small business owners is asking too much. the candidates that comes with a one size fits all, and the liability associate with it. some. of the ban box policies gives a discrimination lawsuit right unless the business owner can explain why they decide not to hire the individual. i can't understand how a business loner can prevail, to say nothing of the defense loss. there's liability concerns. >> is the burden on your organization and organizations like it to show it work, to show the success rate is good enough to pass the sniff test of an organization like elizabeth's? >> fortunately, we don't have to be in that position. we can see what is tried and tested across the country. the fact of the matter is the policy has been in place for years. i'll name hawaii.
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it had a policy in place since 1998 and it applied to employers. what we see are benefit. the fear tactics that there'll be litigation, this is on the back of businesses and they can't handle it, it hasn't panned out. businesses have been able to make this work. we saw chambers of commerce come on board with this because it's the right thing too do with business and all of our economy. >> are we at a point where we are prepared and look at the treatment of sex offenders, to punish people after we are done punishing them. >> right. you point out, i think, a key point here, and that is we can't punish people for the rest of their lives. it makes no sense to take individuals who are ready, willing to work, qualified people for the jabob, and make
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sure they can't have the opportunity. there's one research that is an important one to keep in mind. a study showed in 2008, 57-65 billion in losses to the economy was due to the poor job prospects of people with records. that's something we all have o contend with. >> we have little time left. i want to give it one more shot. is there a way short of a mandate that the arguments can work together and find a way that is palatable for members to start. >> we think it's important, and for lawmakers to understand that hiring is different. it's the business opener you are asking to delay and review. >> thank you both for joining us for "inside story". i'll be back with final thoughts on crime rates, work and human nature. if you have an opinion about the
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topic or a story been banning the box that you'd like us to share, share your thoughts. follow me or keep in touch with luis suarez. hist facebook. tell us about your own experience, we'd love to hear it. >> tuesday. you know his music but what about the man? >> i was given a gift. >> up close and personal. behind the scenes of the biggest hits. >> she was a troubled girl. >> brightest stars. >> kids don't want to "own", they just want to "play". >> and the future of music. >> the record business is in trouble. >> every tuesday night. >> i lived that character. >> go one on one with america's movers and shakers. >> we will be able to see change. >> gripping. inspiring. entertaining. "talk to al jazeera". tuesday, 6:30 eastern. only on al jazeera america.
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many people would served time will reoffend. many won't. those that do become a mill stone around the necks of those that learn the terrible cost to themselves and their families, the offenses of breaking the law. corpses, bosses, government knities will find many willing workers who go on to perform about the way other members of the general public do. many will shine, some don't work out. anxiety about the threat of
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crime is a lagging indicator, it's taking americans a long time after the horrendous years of vint crime in the '80s, and "90, to believe that streets and homes are safer. perceptions of safety are more a feel than a danger thing. ex-fornds will head to places large and small, and won't attract nearly the attention of the inevitable case of someone that didn't have to disclose a previous conviction and ends up doing something terrible at work. it's the way our browns operate. thanks for joining us on "inside story". see you next time. i'm ray
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on "america tonight", hundreds of thousands across the country ticketed to minor offenses are sentenced to probation managed by private companies. it's a vicious cycle of fine, fees and gaol time. also tonight - never before had the air force put a new fighter bomber at a commercial airport. they do that purposely because new aircraft crash more. >> the plane she's talking about

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