Provide a general notice regarding collateral sanctions to defendants (p. 19).
HIGH SCHOOLS, VOCATIONAL SCHOOLS, COLLEGES AND UNIVERSITIES
- Give notice to those intending to embark on studies leading to employment that they should consider any records of contacts with the police or criminal courts in career- planning (p. 21).
- Educate school administrators and counselors about collateral sanctions, so that they can provide students with sound advice about vocational courses and career planning (p. 22).
MAKING COLLATERAL SANCTIONS EASY TO IDENTIFY
A directory of all of the professions and jobs that require licenses and clearances from state agencies must be created. The directory shouldstate requirements for licensure/clearance, the process each agency uses to vet applicants (including how they weigh arrest or conviction records), instructions on how to apply, and an outline of the appeals process.
EDUCATING THE PUBLIC
Implement a campaign to educate the public about the links between public safety and sound re-entry programs, including those that promote employment.
- Re-evaluate the legal mechanisms Minnesota law provides to spare deserving individuals from having criminal convictions and refine and augment them to increase their impact and make them equally available to all qualified defendants.
- Establish a mandatory statewide diversion program based on an appropriate actuarial risk assessment tool.
LICENSING AND BACKGROUND CHECKS
- Rationalize licensing agencies’ use of criminal data, so that it is consistent with the policies set forth in this report.
- Create a process by which all state agencies choosing to do background checks of criminal records can readily obtain uniform, accurate reports concerning at least Minnesota criminal history.
- Before creating a standard format for criminal history reports, the Legislature should consider carefully exactly what data should be included and whether there should be more than one format. It might be decided that the content of background checks should depend upon the purpose for which they’re used, or how much access the subject will have to vulnerable people or property.
- Carefully restrict the number of convictions that will trigger absolute bars from particular kinds of employment, or eliminate such bars entirely.
- Establish sensible “look-back” periods after which convictions will not be reported. It is not readily apparent why some are longer than others and how we arrived at the periods we have. These time-frames must be carefully considered, because they affect many people in a major way.
- Weigh the advantages and disadvantages of streamlining professional licensure by reducing the number of licensing agencies.
- Require all licensing agencies to consider specific factors every time they weigh an individual’s criminal record. If they deny licensure based on criminal history, they must provide the applicant with their evaluation of the factors.
- Review statutory bars to licensure for their adherence to sound collateral sanctions policy and amend them so that they are consonant with sound policy. In addition to considering the elimination of permanent bars and the establishment of reasonable look-back periods, determine whether there is a rational relationship between each conviction triggering a bar and the profession the ex-offender is not allowed to pursue. If there is not, the bar should be eliminated.
- Eliminate arrests not leading to charges from criminal history reports for use outside the criminal justice system.
- Determine whether and/or when charges that do not result in conviction should be reported outside the criminal justice system.
- Determine how and whether to report vacated sentences, dismissals, petty misdemeanors, and other actions that the courts employ specifically to spare people who do not pose a risk to others from having criminal convictions. Create a statute clearly setting forth how and whether such actions are reported.
- Background reports including legal terms, such as “continuance for dismissal,” “vacated,” “dismissed,” and “suspended” will include a standard glossary defining these terms and noting that courts count only convictions as a “criminal record”.
- Fund county corrections agencies at a level adequate to allow them to work within their communities to provide work experience to individuals on probation, to support probationers in getting and keeping jobs, and to measure their efforts’ impact on recidivism.
- Fund DOC vocational training that is designed in collaboration with potential employers, measures impact on recidivism, and provides all inmates with experience working at jobs that are likely to be available in the community.
- Fund state or nonprofit vocational programs for ex-offenders only if the large majority of participants gain employment, and the programs have measurable impact on recidivism.
- Explore the possibility of linking funding for correctional work programs to projects that would benefit the communities most impacted by crime or would build facilities needed to enhance public safety.
ROLE OF EMPLOYERS AND UNIONS
Involve employers and unions in minimizing unreasonable impact of criminal records on employment.
Eliminate employer liability for reasonable hiring of ex-offenders.
- A. Work Opportunity Tax Credit (WOTC)
- Evaluate the effectiveness of Work Opportunity Tax Credits in Minnesota.
- Work with employers to maximize utilization of tax credits.
- B. Minnesota Federal Bonding Service
- Determine why Minnesota businesses are not utilizing the Federal Bonding Service (FBS).
- Increase utilization of federal bonds, or stop paying to advertise and administer the FBS.
- Give judges discretion not to report non-driving traffic violations to the Department of Public Safety (DPS).
- Create a task force to study driver licensing in Minnesota and elsewhere, in order to determine ways in which to decrease the number of residents who are driving illegally in order to get to work.
- Revoke Minnesota Statute §171.175.
- Revoke or amend Minnesota Statute §171.171.