A Cleveland Plain Dealer article last Monday wrote of a meeting between Ohio Governor John Kasich and prosecutors, judges & lawmakers to begin exploring ways to better deal with some of the roadblocks to employment many non-violent ex-convicts recently released from prison currently face -- an issue that likely won't be too popular with many of his fellow Republican lawmakers who over the past decade passed a series of tough-on-crime laws with mandatory sentencing guidelines.
There are some "800 or so stipulations written into Ohio's constitution, laws, administrative codes and court rules – collectively referred to as 'collateral sanctions' -- that keep many former inmates from qualifying for a myriad of jobs in today’s markets," the article says and that will be looked at. "Depending on their crime, some felons cannot obtain a driver's license or a professional license to hold jobs requiring even minimal education, such as cutting hair or driving trucks. And they could be blocked from dozens of other professions, too, from banking to insurance sales to athletic training or being a pawn broker."
Gov. Kasich noted that he and State Senator Shirley Smith, who for years has fought for legislation to help convicts re-assimilate into their communities, already won't agree on eliminating what they call the "box" -- the question on most, or many, job applications that asks whether the applicant has been convicted of a felony. Many employers won't consider hiring a person who has checked the yes box to that question.
Smith wants it removed, but Kasich wants to keep it, saying employers still ought to know that a prospective employee is a felon but should be encouraged to consider other factors in deciding whether to hire the person.
Influential at this onset and point in time has been a report entitled, "Collateral consequences of criminal conviction in Ohio," authored by a group led by Lawrence Travis at the University of Cincinnati's Center for Criminal Justice Research, which surveyed "hundreds of Ohio judges, prosecutors, defense attorneys and parole officers," who generally agreed that it was time for the state's criminal justice system to address the unintended impact of some collateral sanctions.