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Friday, June 16, 2006

The REAL U.S. unemployment rate...

Booman Tribune ~ A Progressive Community: "In fact, I like it so much I made a similar one for the US:

read the


and a good sized chunk of the un-employed and under-employed could be due to this...

Ex-Cons Need Not Apply

Believe in the American credo, do you? Second chances, bootstraps, clean slate, all that? Good for you. I do too. Let's see whether you still do after reading this.

A vast class of men and women — maybe 13 million of them — live under an unbreakable glass ceiling. They committed a crime, and they helped to put that ceiling in place themselves. But isn't there a statute of limitations on punishment? Can't someone help them turn that glass ceiling into a sunroof?

These people, ex-felons mostly, are out of the cell, but they're still in "the box" — the little square on almost every job application that asks, "Have you ever been convicted of a crime?" Most of us breeze by it. For those millions — and another 650,000 who are paroled or released every year — that box is the end of the line. Check that box, and check off your chance for a job.

Why should you care? Because you pay for it too, one way or another. Connect the dots: One Californian in five has a criminal record (in no small part because the "war on drugs" has been cramming prisons with first-time offenders). Two-thirds of the prison population is brown or black. In South Central L.A., for example, more than half the people don't work, and nearly one-third live below the poverty line. "The box" is one of many reasons why.

Janet D. is 51, with a long misdemeanor record for prostitution and drugs. Eight years ago she was arrested in an alley at 3 a.m. buying dope. A Superior Court judge named Craig Veals gave her a choice: two years in prison or a year in drug rehab. She took rehab, sullenly, but now, once a year, she goes back to thank him, to show him she's still clean. Last time he didn't even recognize her, with her suit and her briefcase and her hair all done up.

Employers are harder to impress. Janet got an associate of arts degree in clerical work, but agencies can only send her to temp jobs that don't put "the box" on the application. She just spent four months in a temp job, and the company was eager to hire her full time. She passed two interviews. She passed a drug test. Then she came home to a blinking light on the answering machine — a call from the temp agency.

"The message," Janet told me, was " 'You know that thing you worried about? Well, it came up. And your assignment has ended.'

"I was devastated, and I thought, 'Some dope would sure be good right now,' and I said, 'No, I can't do that.' And I had this credit card, and I thought, 'Some shopping would make me feel better,' and I said, 'No, I can't do that either. I have come too far.' "

read the


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