On Nov. 30, I was joined by dozens of advocates, faith-based organizations and formerly incarcerated individuals to urge the City Council to approve the “Fair Chance Initiative.” The new law will remove the box from job applications that asks candidates about their criminal record and delays the background check inquiry until a conditional offer of employment has been made
I want to thank my City Council colleagues for supporting this very important legislation that I introduced in 2014 and doing what is ethically and morally right. This week's 13-1 vote, demonstrates strong support for the policy. We expect the new law to go into effect January 2017.
Without the stigma of a criminal record, job seekers will soon be evaluated solely by their skills, qualifications and merits. We have to remember people are incarcerated to serve time. Once they serve their time, we shouldn’t be punishing them further. Not allowing people to find employment, is a cruel form of punishment.
I’m proud to say the City’s version of “ban the box” is one of the most progressive in the nation. Not only does Los Angeles’ Fair Chance Policy apply to contractors doing business with the City, but it also applies to private employers with 10 or more employees.
This truly was a significant day for tens of thousands of Angelenos, and I want to thank our partner organizations—including Homeboy Industries, All of Us or None, New Way of Life Re-Entry Project, and LA Voice—for their counsel and leadership, which helped us get to the finish line.
I proposed the Fair Chance Initiative two years ago because for far too long, there has been discrimination in employment on the basis of criminal record. I personally have met individuals who have been haunted by past convictions and no matter how hard they try, are unable to get their lives on track. I’m happy to say, today is in fact a new day!
“Though it may seem exclusion has won the day, today, our city reaffirms its vow to struggle until all are included and none are left behind, left out, or thrown away,” said Rev. Zachary Hoover, Executive Director of LA Voice, a federation of 55 churches, synagogues, and mosques in LA County. “Yes, banning the box makes economic and political sense.
“More importantly, it speaks to our belief in the potential of every Angeleno, no matter their past, to seek and find redemption and rehabilitation—to embark on a new journey. Just as the father welcomed the prodigal son home with a feast, so too do we declare LA a city of joyful returns—and one with a greater opportunity to work and provide for ourselves and our families, even when we’ve made mistakes.”
Added Jose Osuna, Director of External Affairs at Homeboy Industries, “At Homeboy Industries, we believe that when people have paid their dues, they do not deserve a life sentence of joblessness. That’s why we’re thrilled that today the City of Angels has passed the Fair Chance Ordinance, giving tens of thousands of Angelenos—including the 75 percent of men and women who come through Homeboy’s doors each year with a felony conviction—a fair shot at employment. We are so proud to have worked alongside LA Voice, Mayor Garcetti’s office, and Councilman Price to ensure that our city has embraced the ban-the-box movement.”
Another fantastic partner that joined us in this fight were members of a New Way of Life Re-entry Project and All Of Us Or None.
"Today, by passing the Fair Chance Ordinance we are knocking down one of the most pressing obstacles faced by formerly incarcerated and convicted people," said AmberRose Howard, a community organizer with All Of Us Or None. "We are honoring the human dignity of those who have been disenfranchised for far too long by acknowledging that everyone deserves a fair chance at opportunities that will help enhance our lives. The city of Los Angeles is demonstrating what liberty and justice for all truly looks like."
On Sept. 1, I was joined by the Los Angeles Department of Recreation and Parks and hundreds of wide-eyed, smiling youth from South LA for the grand opening of a brand new, state-of-the-art synthetic field at Trinity Park—one of latest upgrades and part of a nearly $1 million investment to the area. Following the ribbon cutting ceremony, we held a soccer programming clinic with National Soccer Hall of Fame member Hugo Pérez.
With almost one-third of the population that I represent under the age of 18, it is imperative that our families have clean, safe spaces and recreational programming that our youth need to be happy and prosper.
Unfortunately, our neighborhood parks have been historically underfunded and haven’t always had the resources they need or support they deserve. To say this is a high priority issue for my office is an understatement. Since taking office in 2013, I have helped secure more than $38 million for much-needed repairs and improvements at more than half of the 26 parks in Council District 9.
Improvements to-date at Trinity Park include: a state-of-the-art, synthetic soccer field; new custom playground equipment; and resurfaced basketball courts, among other upgrades.
Stay tuned for more upgrades coming to several of our parks later this year. I can honestly say that I'm very happy with the progress that we've made so far, but we have a lot more work to do.