The Washington State Legislature just passed a bill (which we’ll refer to here as the Second Chance Law) that empowers and protects businesses when they give certain ex-offenders a second chance at employment.
20% of adults in Washington State have a criminal record. That’s a lot of people with a lot of skills and talents that our businesses and communities need!
We’ve put together a quick guide to explain how the Second Chance Law works, and why it makes great sense for employers to hire ex-offenders who qualify!
How the Second Chance Law works for ex-offenders:
The law (which goes into effect on June 9th, 2016) allows ex-offenders who meet certain requirements to go to a superior court and obtain their Certificate of Restoration of Opportunity (CROP).
- There are specific guidelines depending on the type of offense and amount of time that has passed since the ex-offender’s sentencing or release from jail or prison.
- The ex-offender cannot have any new arrests, convictions, pending charges or be a registered sex offender.
- There are certain types of offenses that are excluded from receiving a CROP, such as vehicular assault, luring, drive-by shooting, extortion, and sex offenses.
Once an ex-offender has a CROP:
- They are able to qualify for certain occupational licenses that they would otherwise not be able to get, allowing them to obtain work in more professions.
- Certain licenses are still excluded, such as nurses, security guards, assisted living facilities employees, etc.
How the Second Chance Law works for employers:
- Employers are able to consider an ex-offender’s CROP when making a hiring decision.
- When a background check is run, the CROP should be the first thing that an employer sees.
- Employers aren’t required to consider the CROP, but are encouraged to.
Protection for employers who hire ex-offenders:
The Second Chance law provides employers with some protections by giving them immunity from negligent hiring lawsuits based on the crimes for which the CROP was issued.
Additionally, it goes one step further and precludes evidence regarding those crimes from being admissible in these cases.
Why does the government want employers to hire ex-offenders?
The purpose of the Second Chance legislation is to:
- Create transparency
- Provide protections to employers
- Remove a barrier to employment for people who are trying to turn their lives around.
It doesn’t serve any of us well to make it difficult for ex-offenders to support themselves and their families. This new law, which had bipartisan support, will:
- Protect vulnerable populations and public safety
- Help businesses access more workers
- Provide a path to employment for folks who want to move forward in their lives
As President Obama said, “There are people who have gone through tough times, they’ve made mistakes, but with a little bit of help, they can get on the right path. And that’s what we have to invest in. That’s what we have to believe. That’s what we have to promote.”