For millions of Americans that have been convicted of a crime it is hard for them to find and keep a job once employers run background checks. Although the sentence may have occurred over a decade ago and has no relevance to the field of employment they are in, the records remain intact and will deny employment. It is especially difficult for those who have been convicted of a federal crime. There is no legislation in place to allow for the expungements of such crimes. Thus, major legal reform is needed in this area.
One instance of a federal conviction preventing a single mother from supporting her family was brought to a United States District Court judge and the ruling was unlike any other. District Court Judge John Gleeson oversaw the case of Jane Doe vs. The United Stated. Jane Doe had a thirteen-year old fraud conviction that had created problems for her in either getting or maintaining a job. Doe worked in the health care field as an aide and many times would get hired; yet once the employer ran a background check on her they would immediately fire her once they learned she had a conviction for health care fraud. Doe had completed her 5 year probation period over a decade ago but the burden of the conviction continues to haunt her. Ms. Doe, who was born in Haiti and came to New York in hope of a better life, was granted citizenship in the late 1980's. She has four children whom she cares for by hersel, as her husband left the family to return to Haiti. She has no other family here to help her, as her mother died in 199. Thus, she needs to secure and maintain a stable job.
Jane Doe was involved in a health care fraud scheme in 1997, as a means to support her family. At the time, she was raising her four children by herself on a monthly income of $783. The rent for her apartment was way more than she could afford and the apartment was a meeting place for drug dealers and addicts. The crime she committed involved corrupt physicians and other health care professionals and those who organized staged car accidents. The suspects would then bill insurance companies for unnecessary services. The corrupt clinics then would pay the car service operator (the person driving the car) for causing the “accident,” and the passengers would get small cash payment. After a civil suit was filed on behalf of Doe she received $2,500 and a few years later she was found guilty of violating 18 U.S.C. Section 1347 . She was then sentenced to probation for five years, ten months of home detention, and a restitution fee of $46,701. This was her first and only criminal conviction, and she has never had any run-ins with the criminal justice system since. Ever since, Doe has had an extremely hard time finding a job and can barely support her family. She has been receiving aid from the government but it is not enough and is desperate for work. She does not want to receive aid because she would rather work for her money; yet her thirteen year old federal conviction is preventing her from doing so.
Judge Gleeson analyzed the case thoroughly and saw how much Doe had suffered from the consequences of her federal felony. He noted that in 2014, Judge Jonathan Lippman of the New York Court of Appeals proposed a measure that would allow nonviolent felons to have their records sealed if they avoid re-arrest for ten years after the crime was committed. Another judge from Delaware used his pardon power in an effort to alleviate the stigma of criminal records and help over 1,000 people receive pardons for minor convictions.
Doe asked for an expungement on her conviction and there is little precedent to suppoer such a remedy. Judge Gleeson recognized the importance of granting an expungement. In this case, Jane Doe had committed the offenses 17 years ago, was sentenced over a decade ago, and completed her sentence successfully. She has never been re-arrested yet her criminal record has prevented her from obtaining employment. Given evidence that recidivism rates decline with age, her age is in favors an expungement.
Jane Doe is one of 65 million Americans who have suffered from the consequences of having a criminal record, yet unable to expunge their record. This case shows that we need to reform the policies that prevent those with criminal convictions from assimilating back into society and preventing them from supporting themselves.“Ban the box, seeks to eliminate questions challenging an applicant's criminal history is gaining popularity across the nation. We should not prevent people from being able to reenter society. Banning the ability to expunge one's record does more damage than good.
If you or anyone you know has been convicted of a federal crime, contact the Law Offices of Seth Chazin. Seth with work aggressively to get your record expunged.
Read about the case here...