Letter: Ex-convicts need a second chance to learn job skills | Letters to the Editor
In Tony Messenger’s column “Criminal record prevents nonprofit founder from becoming adoptive parent” (May 11), he provided a great example of the collateral consequences that affect formerly incarcerated people. This includes federal, state, and local laws and regulations that contain hiring restrictions and access to housing, education, and voting. There are over 40,000 that range from discretionary to mandatory; some are directly related to a particular crime, but others apply without any connection to the crime or regardless of a person’s time spent and efforts to rehabilitate.
Every year in Missouri, approximately 13,000 people are released from jails and prisons, many of whom want a second chance and, like Shawntelle Fisher, have the talent and skills to be productive members of the communities to which they return. Nationally, 75% of these people remain unemployed after one year, and only 55% have an income.
Missouri needs to join 44 states working on fair licensing reforms to remove some of these barriers, as well as measures to make it easier to remove qualifying recordings, such as the Clean Slate Initiative. As Fisher asks, “How long does a person have to keep paying?” We should also ask ourselves how long can our communities afford to ignore the unused talents among us?
Marie Schumann • University town
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