LDF welcomes President Obama’s announcement of a series of actions designed to promote opportunities for successful reentry of persons impacted by the criminal justice system. These measures address many of the substantial barriers faced by persons with criminal records in seeking employment, education, housing, health care and public services, and include a range of policy changes, funding provisions, and education, training, and record-clearing opportunities.

LDF is particularly pleased with President Obama’s directive to the Office of Personnel Management (OPM) to modify its rules so that inquiries about criminal history are delayed until later in the federal hiring process. This is an action that LDF requested in a letter to OPM last year, and reiterated last month in a letter to President Obama.

“Any federal rule should allow persons with criminal records to get their foot in the door and explain their qualifications for a job,” says Monique Dixon, Deputy Director of Policy and Senior Counsel at LDF. “Consistent with the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission’s guidelines, federal employers should consider the relationship of the conviction to the job, the time that has passed since the conviction and evidence of applicants’ rehabilitation. These individualized assessments should offer the estimated 70 million people with criminal records  equal access to employment.” LDF also urges employers to take measures to prevent racially disparate employment outcomes that may result from stereotypes linking race with criminality even when questions about an applicant’s criminal history are not permitted.

LDF has litigated cases seeking to protect the civil rights of persons with criminal records, particularly persons of color, to compete for jobs for which they are qualified. We are honored to stand with over 200 organizations, in our collective effort to advance fair chance hiring of people with criminal records. We look forward to continued discussions with the Obama Administration about issuing an executive order that will extend fair hiring processes to federal contractors and subcontractors.

LDF also applauds the guidance from the Department of Housing and Urban Development for publicly assisted housing that requires individualized assessments of criminal records and prohibits use of arrest records as evidence of criminal activity. Leslie Proll, LDF’s Director of Policy, stated, “Eliminating barriers to housing is absolutely essential to promoting successful reentry. Housing must be at the forefront of any national reentry initiative.”

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The NAACP Legal Defense and Educational Fund, Inc. (LDF) is not a part of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP) although LDF was founded by the NAACP and shares its commitment to equal rights. Since 1957, LDF has been a completely separate organization.  Please refer to us in all media attributions as the “NAACP Legal Defense Fund” or “LDF”. 

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