Expungement focus of April 25 informational sessions
Felony. It is often a strong word that brings to mind the most serious crimes, and for offenders re-entering society, that commonly equates to barriers in their post-incarceration job search.
At Kentucky Career Center – Lincoln Trail (KCC-LT), we work with all job seekers regardless of their background. In our work with job seekers with criminal records, we’re seeing two important things emerge in the job market.
First, new tools are available that can help job seekers overcome the barriers to finding a job and advancing in their careers. One such tool, known as House Bill 40, is a state law that allows a defendant to file an application to have a conviction vacated and expunged. The law, which took effect last July, applies to about 60 nonviolent Class D felonies.
“Expungement allows a person who has been punished for a crime and learned his or her lesson to be treated as if he or she had not committed the crime,” said Damon Preston, Deputy Public Adovcate for the Kentucky Department of Public Advocacy (DPA).
We want to help job seekers, employers and others throughout our communities learn more about expungement. That’s why the Kentucky Career Center – Lincoln Trail has partnered with the City of Radcliff, DPA and the Kentucky Association of Criminal Defense Attorneys to host two informational sessions. We invite you to join us on Tuesday, April 25, at Colvin Community Center in Radcliff. Sessions will be held from 9-11 a.m. and 1-3 p.m.
“At our expungement information session, we will describe how the law in Kentucky has changed for the better, making expungement available to many people with criminal records,” Preston said. “We will have attorneys available for brief consultations to tell people whether they are eligible and what they need to do to make it happen.”
The second thing we are seeing is that more and more employers are open to considering job applicants who have been convicted of a felony on a case-by-case basis.
Employers want to be open-minded and are willing to consider, for example, the circumstances of the conviction and how long ago it happened.
“We work with employers who believe everyone deserves a second chance, and they have hired applicants with felonies who have proven to be successful employees,” said Terri Thomas, a career counselor at KCC-LT’s Lebanon office.
Developments such as House Bill 40 and Gov. Matt Bevin’s executive order that removes questions about criminal history from the initial application for state jobs in the executive branch, have led employers to research the different classes of felonies and reconsider their hiring criteria. And because of this, employers are more likely to determine that felony convictions are worth a second look as they seek to meet their workforce demands.
Also, KCC-LT provides outreach to those lodged in our local jails. Sometimes this assistance is provided alongside our Adult Education partners, and it may include job search, resume and interview skills counseling as well as information about existing job opportunities.
“Our goal is to ensure they know they can reach out to us for employment services once they are released,” Thomas said, noting services are provided in partnership with county government to increase the likelihood that inmates will succeed in re-entering the community. She noted employers have even accompanied career counselors to the Marion County Detention Center to conduct on-site job interviews.
The bottom line is this - If someone is able to work, the KCC-LT staff wants to help them attain self-sustaining employment. Our career counselors are available to provide one-on-one assistance including job referrals and job market information with a job seeker’s specific circumstances in mind.
If you are interested in career opportunities or want to learn more about how job seekers with felony convictions may be part of a workforce solution, join us for the community information session April 25 or contact your nearest KCC-LT location.
Jerisia Lamons is client service manager at Kentucky Career Center – Lincoln Trail, which is overseen by the Lincoln Trail Workforce Development Board. She can be reached at 270-766-5115 or firstname.lastname@example.org.