No one says jail is a pleasant experience—it isn't designed to be. But it must be even worse to get out of jail, ready to make a new life for yourself, only to have your criminal record bar you from finding a job or a place to live. Sadly, it happens a lot to people transitioning from incarceration to life in Seattle.
But the Seattle Office for Civil Rights has a solution—a proposal to end job and housing discrimination based on criminal records, drafted in collaboration with community groups, residents of Sojourner Place Transitional Housing, and the Seattle Human Rights Commission. Tonight, they're hosting a community forum on the proposal. Even if you've never been to prison, this affects you. In a press release sent by the Seattle Office for Civil Rights, Brenda Anibarro writes, "Adding protections to end discrimination in housing and employment based on arrest or conviction records is one strategy... to decrease the likelihood of re-offending."
The proposal would amend the City's current anti-discrimination laws, making it illegal for potential employers and landlords to turn away individuals fresh out of jail solely because they have conviction records. But don't worry, puritanical-leaning thinkers of the children, the proposal doesn't get too crazy—it allows for exceptions in cases where convictions involve employment or housing (think arsonists and embezzlers), or if there is a perceived threat to personal safety (rapists, for example). Come voice your support for or opposition to this very reasonable amendment tonight.
The forum is free and takes place tonight in the Bertha Knight Landes Room at City Hall, from 6:00 to 8:00 p.m.