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“Drive Change:Write letters to prospective employers”

Writing a letter to future employers about the challenges faced by former offenders is important. Below is an example that gets you started:

Dear [name],

I am writing to urge you to DRIVE CHANGE for youth joblessness. You have the power to help young people, like me, overcome barriers to employment by creating internships and other job opportunities.

Did you know that youth unemployment is double that of the general population? Were you aware that the likelihood of employment pummels if you are considered “at risk” and/or were a juvenile offender? Recently, I learned how the criminal justice system contributes to youth unemployment. As you may know, most employers are reluctant to hire applicants with criminal records — and half don’t factor the age of the offender. At the same time, too many adolescents are treated as adults in the criminal justice system and end up with felonies on their records. This fails to safeguard the rights and livelihood of people my age.

If former felons are now categorically barred from working in more than 800 occupations because of laws and licensing rules, it’s no wonder that they have trouble breaking the cycle of incarceration, re-entry, incarceration. Between 60-and-75 percent of ex-offenders are jobless up to a year after release. In part, this is due to the stigma associated with having a felony, despite the fact that many were not incarcerated for a violent crime.

My generation needs to be given the opportunity to succeed, not fail. We need to put in place programs of mentorship, apprenticeship and fellowship — like the one I learned about on PeerSpring. <link> Most of all, we need to empower young people with the opportunity of leadership!

Please help me by committing to hire youth this summer and educating your staff about the hardships youth face.

 

Sincerely,

 

[name]

If you are from New York State or North Carolina -- the only two remaining states which automatically arrests and prosecutes 16-year-olds as adults -- you could write to your state legislatures urging to hold the age of adult criminal responsibility at eighteen.

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