Peters Cosponsors Legislation to Improve Employment Opportunities for Former Prisoners

WASHINGTON, DC – U.S. Senator Gary Peters (MI) today announced that he has cosponsored bipartisan legislation to improve employment opportunities for former prisoners reentering the workforce and help prevent repeated incarcerations. The FAIR Chance Act would bring the Ban the Box initiative to federal government positions and prohibit federal employers and federal contractors from asking applicants about criminal history information until they reach the conditional offer stage of the hiring process. The legislation includes important exceptions for national security, law enforcement and other positions for which criminal history information is required by law. 

“Nearly three-quarters of former prisoners are rearrested within five years after their release, and we know that finding steady employment is key to breaking this cycle of incarceration,” said Senator Peters. “I’m proud to cosponsor this legislation to help give ex-offenders who have served their time a fresh start so they can find a stable job and get on the path to a more successful life.”

Former inmates face many challenges after incarceration including difficulty finding employment, housing and mental health care or substance abuse treatment. According to the Michigan Council on Crime and Delinquency, over 600,000 individuals are released from prison each year nationwide, resulting in over 70 million Americans with criminal histories. The Fair Chance Act helps ensure ex-offenders have a fair shot at steady employment and a pathway to a better life after they have served their time. 

The FAIR Chance Act is supported by a broad coalition of criminal justice and civil rights groups, including the American Bar Association, ACLU, National Employment Law Project, Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights, Bend the Arc, NAACP, National Black Prosecutors Association, NETWORK, Center for Urban Families, Coalition of Religious Leaders, Main Street Alliance and the National Black Chamber of Commerce.

Senator Peters supports efforts to reduce recidivism and promote better outcomes for former prisoners. He recently cosponsored the Second Chance Reauthorization Act to provide grants for state and local programs using evidence-based practices that reduce recidivism, lead to better outcomes for former offenders and lower prison costs. He also introduced the National Criminal Justice Commission Act of 2015, which would create a commission to conduct a comprehensive review of the criminal justice system, and issue recommendations for reforms in oversight, policies, practices and laws to reduce crime, increase public safety and promote confidence in the criminal justice system.