« Excited to be at Duke Law School for "The American Death Penalty after Glossip" | Main | "Criminal Justice and (a) Catholic Conscience" »

February 19, 2016

"Legislating Forgiveness: A Study of Post-Conviction Certificates as Policy to Address the Employment Consequences of a Conviction"

The title of this post is the title of this new paper by Heather Garretson now available via SSRN. Here is the abstract:

Mass incarceration in America is creating an employment paradox that is the result of three facts: an estimated 65 million Americans have a criminal record, a criminal record significantly impairs job opportunities, and a job is a critical component of living a crime-free life.  This paradox is perpetuated by thousands of legal and administrative barriers to employment and by employers’ unwillingness to hire someone with a criminal record.

States have recently started addressing the employment paradox with legislation.  This legislation authorizes an administrative relief mechanism — often a certificate of some kind — that is intended to lift employment barriers and encourage employers to consider applicants with a criminal record.  Such legislation is on the rise: of the ten states that have certificate legislation, eight passed such legislation in the last five years.  This passage comes without an understanding of the impact of certificates.  The accessibility and relevance of certificates to employment has — until now — been assumed, but not examined.

New York State has the oldest and most robust certificate system, and is a model for much of the recent certificate legislation.  This paper contains the first comprehensive research on New York’s certificates.  The research asks whether New York’s certificates are accessible and relevant to employment.  It combines statutory analysis with qualitative research.  It is a study of how certificate legislation is supposed to work — and how it actually does.  It examines a statutory scheme that is recently replicated but empirically empty.  Through interviews with judges, people with certificates or those eligible but without one, attorneys, current and former probation officials, service providers, and advocates, this paper provides insights into the use of certificates, their challenges, and examines how legislating more of the same can effectively address the employment paradox.

February 19, 2016 at 07:19 PM | Permalink


Instead of a certificate true job training is the solution, not the mickey mouse stuff that the feds have.

Cnc, carpentry, elctrical, plumbing, hvac, automotive. Send them the last 5 yrs to a trch school during the day, back after claases. Sounds good, are logistic snags to solve, but this is the answer. If they takeoff, its lights out.

Posted by: MidWestGuy | Feb 20, 2016 7:46:47 PM

I don't understand what the conclusion of this study is

Posted by: anonymous | Feb 24, 2016 11:55:10 PM

Oh, OK, I realized you can download the whole paper. Now I read the conclusion...seems pretty sensible.

Posted by: anonymous | Feb 25, 2016 12:17:12 AM

Post a comment

In the body of your email, please indicate if you are a professor, student, prosecutor, defense attorney, etc. so I can gain a sense of who is reading my blog. Thank you, DAB