One of the many unfortunate consequences of being a convicted felon is the hardship it places on finding suitable employment. Ohio has recently reformed state sentencing statutes and many advocates for ex-offenders are concerned about the collateral sanctions that create barriers for ex-offenders who are seeking employment to support themselves and their families. Collateral sanctions range from losing a driver’s license to not being eligible for a job to not being able to serve jury duty. The main argument is that it is unfair to ban convicted felons from the workforce because of the negative effects it can ultimately have on neighborhoods and communities in the form of Increase in crime, social services, welfare, food stamps.
Many jobs in Ohio are legally off limits to many ex-offenders, mainly convicted felons, such as certain state agency positions, construction positions, and even positions that they are trained in while they are incarcerated such as heating, ventilation, and air conditioning work because they can’t get licensed to work in those industries.
The Ohio Justice and Policy Center in Cincinnati has recently launched a new database called the Civil Impacts of Criminal Convictions under Ohio Law or CIVICC, that allows the general public, offenders, defense attorneys, prosecutors and judges to see how felony and misdemeanor records affect the employment possibilities and other opportunities for those who are convicted. One of the goals of the database is to educate lawmakers on the impact of collateral sanctions and to ignite reform.
The database will allow people to search for a crime or job titles to see the impact. The database is currently in beta form and available on line at http://civiccohio.org. The Toledo Bar Association, Ohio State Bar Association and the Ohio Department of Rehabilitation and Correction are sponsoring the database and lending their support.
There are approximately 1.9 million people living in Ohio with a felony or misdemeanor record and a reported 24,000 state prison inmates that are released back into their communities. A major issue supporters of the database are hoping to address is that many offenders are unaware of how their criminal records will prevent them from getting certain jobs. Another focus is to educate offenders even before they plead guilty to offenses where they have no clue of the lifelong employment consequences of that plea.
With this new database your Columbus criminal defense attorney can effectively advise you on the best avenue to take regarding the plea would best benefit you in the short and long term. The difference between pleading guilty to a felony and pleading guilty to a misdemeanor can greatly affect your job opportunity outlook in the future. A knowledgeable defense attorney could potentially argue for lesser charges or dismissal, which could in turn eliminate the threat of the many collateral sanctions that are mentioned.