CEO advocates for increased investment in employment-focused reentry supports, fair wages and vocational training programs that reduce racial disparities in employment opportunities. We push policymakers to reform the laws, regulations, and discriminatory institutions that keep people with justice involvement from success in the workforce, including reducing incarceration and legal responses that disproportionately harm people and communities of color.

CEO's Policy Agenda

Increase government investment in reentry employment.

The COVID-19 crisis exposed and compounded racial inequity in access to employment. CEO participants and other justice-involved individuals, many of whom have been essential workers throughout the pandemic, rely on programs like CEO that support them and their families during the pandemic, economic recovery and beyond. More government investment is needed to expand access to jobs for these individuals, particularly those that create an immediate on-ramp to employment.

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Remove barriers to workforce training programs.

Despite recognition that a key purpose of the workforce system is to help people reconnect to the labor market. In 2018, only 10% of people exiting WIOA programming were justice-involved. These jobseekers are disproportionately people of color, face significant barriers to employment and are likely experiencing poverty, yet underserved by the workforce system. The following changes can address the primary barriers that keep individuals from accessing these training programs, which facilitate access to high quality jobs.

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Increase access to high quality jobs.

At CEO, we know that a job can be a powerful tool in preventing a return to incarceration. People of color, particularly women and those with conviction histories, remain overrepresented in the lowest-paid agricultural, domestic, and service vocations. Achieving our vision of economic mobility requires government investment and incentives to create more high quality jobs for individuals who are coming home from incarceration.

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Eliminate hiring barriers for individuals with past convictions.

Even when the policy barriers to employment for justice-impacted individuals are eliminated, it still requires businesses to hire people with backgrounds. This requires engaging employers to make their human resources and business practices more inclusive, but it also requires removing policy barriers that prevent businesses from hiring people with past convictions.

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Eliminate policies that criminalize poverty through the legal system.

Money owed to the government is a tremendous barrier to people reentering into society, reducing opportunities to build financial capital and credit. Because of racial bias in the criminal legal system, these fines and fees disproportionately strip resources from communities of color. There are several changes the federal, state and local government can implement to improve people’s financial opportunity.

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Eliminate supervision policies that keep people from success.

In order for people to be successful when they come home, we must reform legal systems that have significant negative impacts on employment, perpetuate racial disparities, and serve no public safety purpose. The imprisonment rate for Black men is 5.8 percent times that of white men. Nationally, 1 in 81 white individuals vs. 1 in 23 Black individuals are on supervision. Numerous policy changes are needed to address high rates of incarceration and over-supervision that interfere with employment.

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Participant Stories: Charandip’s Journey: From Incarceration to a Union Job

Charandip is a testament to the power of the human spirit to overcome adversity and create economic independence for himself and his family. Born and raised in Queens, New York, Charandip got into legal trouble when he was very young; trouble that followed him into adulthood. He spent a total of six years in prison at different points in his life and came to CEO in 2020, after his last two-year sentence.

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Please contact [email protected] for more information on CEO's policy and advocacy work.