As a champion of institutional, structural, and personal transformation, the John Jay College Institute for Justice and Opportunity (the Institute) opens doors and eliminates barriers to success for people who have been involved in the criminal legal system. We create access to higher education and pathways to satisfying careers. We advocate for the right to housing, employment, healthcare, and other human rights too often denied people with criminal convictions.
The insidious use of background checks in employment, licensure, housing, and education is yet another example of the perpetual punishment endured by millions of Americans who have conviction records. The user-friendly design of this guide is intended to help people with conviction records navigate individual, institutional, and systemic barriers erected by the practice of background checks. While many valuable guides exist that help people with convictions understand their legal rights, this guide is unique because it aims to help people develop their own narrative. This guide is a continuation of our work to support people with convictions in navigating barriers to education and economic opportunity. Last year, we released Getting to Work with a Criminal Record: New York State License Guides (2020 Expanded Edition), which explains the process for obtaining licenses in 25, high-demand occupations and professions for people with conviction records. We remain committed to increasing access to opportunity for the millions of people impacted by the criminal legal system.