With 2.3 million people behind bars, the United States incarcerates more people than any other nation and is suffering the consequences of mass incarceration. Mass incarceration leads, among other things, to masses of criminal records – records of arrests, charges, convictions, and prison sentences. More than 25 percent of the population has a criminal record. The overly broad rejection by employers of job applicants with criminal records amplifies the already huge fiscal, economic, and social impact of mass incarceration, and has a disparate impact on people of color.
In these comments, the Brennan Center provides data critical to the U.S. Commission on Civil Rights’ consideration of the Enforcement Guidance issued by the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission on the use of arrest and conviction records in employment decisions under the Civil Rights Act.