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It's A Bad Time For Job Seekers With Criminal Records

Publication Date: 
November 30, 2010
Los Angeles Times
Alana Semuels

Eddie Lemon has an associate's degree from Taft College near Bakersfield. He's certified to work as a sheet metal operator and to drive a forklift. He has experience as a dishwasher and a cabinetmaker.

He also has a criminal record.

The 47-year-old Lemon believes that has made it all but impossible for him to find a job in one of the worst economies in decades. And as prisons are forced to reduce their inmate populations because of overcrowding and budget shortages, some economists fear that could lead many of them back to a life of crime.


Even without that court action, however, a state law that took effect this year (also to reduce overcrowding) could cut the prison population by about 10,000 a year, largely by reducing the number of people who are returned to prison for parole violations, according to Joan Petersilia, co-director of the Stanford Criminal Justice Center.

"More people will in fact be coming home from prison in the next two to three years as a result of legislation to reverse overcrowding," Petersilia said. "But people are being released less prepared and are getting less help when they hit the streets."