Ex-offender employment bill may reduce crime

(FOX19) - Ohio would readily welcome some ex-inmates back into the workforce under a bill that's expected to be signed by the Governor.

The bill aims to curb so-called "collateral sanctions" or employment hardships brought about by a person's conviction or by a decision to plead guilty to a crime.

It would create a way for ex-offenders to get a state certificate of employment and lift certain bars on employment.

It also provides them a way to have their record expunged in certain cases.

Elements of juvenile offenders' records would be shielded from public disclosure.

Thousands of men and women are released from Ohio prisons every year, but they often find their difficulties continue when they try to find a job.

Ex-offender Gerry Rolley says it's like being sentenced twice. "You go and do your time and you get out and then you have to be punished by society all over again once you get out."

Rolley says the stigma and the rejection wore on his self esteem. "You have to get through dealing with the depression that you have for going in. When you start to get a handle on that...you go to look for a job...your spirits up and you go to the first job and they say no, you go to the next job they say no it starts to bring you down again."

Jerome Abernathy supports the measure and says lack of job opportunities can often lead ex-offenders back to a life of crime. "If you keep a guy down he's going to be the guy that's going to stay down and he's going to figure out well I can't get no where else, but do something else wrong."

City councilman Cecil Thomas advises the Cincinnati Initiative to Reduce Violence or CIRV. He supports the measure and says there's a correlation between employment and crime. "It's going to definitely have an impact on crime in our city. You know when an individual realizes that there's just no opportunity to be able to turn his life around he's going to resort to the same activity that got him in prison in the first place."

In our commitment to balanced news FOX19 reached out to three of the state senators who voted against the measure.  Senators Keith Faber, Jim Hughes and Tim Shaffer were not available for comment.

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