Got a criminal history and can't get a job? That's discrimination, according to Washington D.C. council member and ex-Mayor Marion Barry (he would say that now, wouldn't he?):
“The idea of the criminal justice system is, they send you to jail for rehabilitation and punishment, and once you have served your time, it seems to me, your debt has been paid to society,” said Barry, who has had several run-ins with the law, including a 1990 conviction for misdemeanor drug possession.
In recent years, as officials have grappled with the city’s unemployment rate of nearly 12 percent, Mayor Vincent C. Gray (D) and the council have pledged to reexamine the treatment of ex-offenders trying to reenter the workforce.
As Barry noted, about 10 percent of D.C. residents have a criminal record. People with such records, advocates and city leaders say, are far less likely to be hired — which is one reason the jobless rate exceeds 20 percent in Ward 8.
If Barry’s legislation is adopted, an employer would be allowed to inquire about a criminal record only after a “conditional (job) offer” has been made. If an employer rescinds the offer based on a past arrest, he would have to submit documentation explaining why the applicant could not work in that job.