Philadelphia City Council is looking at the problems ex-offenders have finding work.
Activists are pushing for employers to think twice before asking job applicants if they have a criminal record.
About 50 million Americans have an arrest or conviction on record and that can be an impediment to getting a job. More than a dozen donned orange vests or jumpsuits to symbolize the impediment at a hearing in council on the issue. Mike Tabon went so far as to add handcuffs and leg irons to his prison jumpsuit. Tabon says if employers do not to ask about criminal histories and give ex-offenders a chance, recidivism will drop.
“If you want the crime to go down in the city, then before the drug dealer gives them a package, the drug dealers always got jobs but if you don’t give this man a job then he is going to pick up a gun,” said Tabon.
Councilwoman Donna Reed Miller agreed. “If we don’t allow them to work or help themselves, then they are forced to survive doing whatever they can,” she said.
Even if adopted, employers will be free to ignore the non-binding resolution.
Photos by Nathaniel Hamilton for NewsWorks