Georgia Justice Project’s 2015 Reentry Policy Recommendations
The Georgia Justice Project is committed to reducing the barriers to opportunity caused by having a criminal record in Georgia. The Georgia Crime Information Center estimates that there are as many as 4 million people with a criminal record in Georgia – which means 1 in 3 Georgians have an arrest and/or conviction reported on their criminal history. The overwhelming research indicates that the most important predictor of recidivism is whether there is reasonable access to stable and gainful employment. Yet, studies have found that the unemployment rate for people with records of conviction is as high as 65-70%. Moreover, there is additional research indicating the chance for a job callback is reduced by 50% if an applicant has a criminal record. There is a clear fiscal need to improve access to opportunity for those with a criminal record in Georgia, yet the state’s laws are consistently ranked by the Legal Action Center amongst the hardest in the country for people with criminal records to secure jobs and other opportunities.
- Enhance the Chance/“Ban the Box” in Georgia: Improve the way criminal records are considered for state employment and licensing.
- No denials of applicants for state employment/licensing based on charges not resulting in conviction;
- Convictions only considered when there is a substantial relationship to the position/occupation; and
- Questions about criminal history are asked after a conditional offer has been extended and the applicant has the opportunity to explain any criminal history information before denial.
- Require consumer reporting agencies (CRAs) to provide current, accurate and relevant criminal history information.
- Require CRAs doing business in Georgia to register with the Secretary of State;
- For employment checks, require CRAs check the courthouse records before reporting criminal history information; and
- Provide a state remedy against CRAs reporting inaccurate or sealed criminal history information.
- Allow those released from correctional control to prove sentence completion after a felony conviction in Georgia.
- Create a certificate of sentence completion to certify to employers, landlords, lenders, schools, and others that a person has fully completed their sentence and is under no further obligation to the state.
- Provide a valuable tool that demonstrates rehabilitation for those leading productive lives.
- Allow rehabilitated individuals who receive a pardon to access employment and other opportunities.
- Restore the intent of the First Offender Act in Georgia so that rehabilitated first offenders can get jobs.
- Ensure those eligible for first offender treatment are informed before sentencing and those not informed have a retroactive remedy;
- Seal all records of successful first offenders including those maintained at the clerks of court and jails; and
- Provide successful first offenders a remedy when denied employment based on the first offender case.