Employment Opportunities

Why should we care about employment for people who have been convicted? Given the many issues of importance to society, why does this issue warrant attention? The short answer is that the benefits of increased employment go far beyond people with prior convictions and their immediate families. Communities are stronger when the individuals that live there are gainfully employed and engaged. Taxpayers benefit as reduced recidivism means lower costs to police, courts, jails, probation, prison, and parole. Lower recidivism means fewer victims. For employers, more people competing for jobs ultimately means better quality employees. Lastly, increasing employment opportunities for people with prior convictions is not just the “right” thing to do, but it is the “smart” thing to do. 

Report:  Reaching a Higher Ground: Increasing Employment Opportunities for People with Prior Convictions

Executive Summary:
  Reaching a Higher Ground: Increasing Employment Opportunities for People with Prior Convictions

Policy brief for employers

Policy brief for corrections officials

The Berkeley Center for Criminal Justice (BCCJ) received a grant from The Rosenberg Foundation to explore ways to increase employment opportunities for people with prior convictions in California. This work is based on guidance from an Advisory Board; existing research, data, and publications; and site visits and interviews with stakeholders and experts from across the state.  

The Advisory Board consists of 15 highly accomplished leaders and experts from across the state who represent diverse perspectives including employers, people with prior convictions, law enforcement, service providers, and advocates. The Board set the project’s priorities; provided knowledge and insight; guided the overall direction of the project; and developed a set of Guiding Principles and a set of Recommendations that are presented in this document.

The Advisory Board:

  • Deborah Alvarez-Rodriquez, President and CEO, Goodwill Industries of San Francisco, San Mateo and Marin Counties
  • Father Greg Boyle, Executive Director, Homeboy Industries
  • Bill Brown, Sheriff, Santa Barbara County
  • Allen Davenport, Former Government Relations Director, Service Employees International Union (SEIU)
  • Ronald Davis, Chief of Police, East Palo Alto Police Department
  • Bonnie Dumanis, District Attorney, San Diego County
  • Maurice Emsellem, Policy Co-Director, National Employment Law Project (NELP)
  • Kevin Grant, Violence Prevention Network Coordinator, Oakland Department of Human Services
  • Mike Jimenez, President, California Correctional Peace Officers Association (CCPOA)
  • Nancy Nittler, Past President, County Personnel Administrators’ Association of California (CPAAC) and Personnel Director, Placer County
  • Anita Paredes, Executive Director, Community Connection Resource Center
  • Colleene Preciado, Chief Probation Officer (retired), Orange County
  • Steven Raphael, Professor, U.C. Berkeley, Goldman School of Public Policy
  • John Shegerian, Chief Executive Officer, Electronic Recyclers, Inc.
  • Richard Valle, Chief Executive Officer, Tri-CED Community Recycling

For more information on this project and the publications, please contact BCCJ Director of Programs Sarah Lawrence at slawrence@law.berkeley.edu.