It's time to do more to let ex-offenders back into the workforce

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On July 19, President Trump signed an executive order aimed at creating more opportunities for job training amid a shifting demand for skills and education in the U.S. labor market. This initiative was supported by more than 15 major companies, including Walmart, Microsoft, and General Motors, who have pledged to expand apprenticeships and provide more skills-based job training. These companies collectively pledged to train or hire 3.8 million people over the next five years.

This executive order should be applauded, but the administration's pro-growth agenda could go a step further. In a strong labor market, policymakers should focus on helping those with criminal records find work.

According to Trump's executive order, 6.7 million jobs are currently unfilled—a historic high. This labor shortage is incentivizing employers to consider previously-overlooked populations to find talent.

Of the many hurdles ex-offenders face during reentry into society, finding work is arguably the toughest. A 2003 Harvard study found that job applicants with a record of a felony conviction are 50 percent less likely to receive a call back. One-third of adults in the U.S. have past convictions, while 90 percent of companies use background checks in their hiring decisions. This discourages applications from potentially qualified candidates who may have prior convictions while also putting many jobs further out of reach. As a result, one year after release, over 60 percent of former inmates remain unemployed.

It's clear that helping ex-offenders would have significant positive economic effects. The Center for Economic Policy Research finds that lost output from people with criminal records accounts for a loss of $78 to $87 billion in GDP annually. According to an analysis by the Washington State Institute for Public Policy, if we could better incorporate ex-offenders into the workplace, $2,600 would be returned to taxpayers.

Furthermore, helping those with criminal history find employment brings many benefits for public safety, specifically by reducing recidivism. A 2016 Arizona State University study showed that the inability to obtain a job is the best indicator of how likely someone is to re-offend or end up re-incarcerated. Additionally, research from the University of Chicago found that decreases in the overall unemployment rate causes a corresponding drop in the crime rates associated with larceny, auto theft, and burglary, reflecting how much less likely felons are to commit future crimes if they're able to find employment after prison.

The Trump administration has consistently stated its support of improving the reentry process and reducing recidivism. So, what steps should it take? The biggest challenge is identifying how to help individuals released from incarceration adapt to a changing labor market after missing opportunities to gain skills, networks, and a sufficient education while incarcerated.

Employers must play crucial role in advancing fresh start initiatives. Open-minded hiring requires that employers focus on applicants' qualifications and skills, not their history. Fortunately, large corporations such as Starbucks, Target, and Koch Industries are setting a precedent for reform by adopting their own "ban-the-box" policies, where they don't ask job-seekers about prior convictions. This encourages more individuals to apply and helps employers find the best talent.

Another way to help ex-offenders find employment is by reducing regulatory barriers, specifically when it comes to occupational licensing, the practice of government requiring individuals to obtain a license or certification to pursue a particular profession. States such as Kansas, Tennessee, and Indiana passed occupational licensing reforms this year that ease government restrictions on ex-offenders finding work. Specifically, these states ended the use of vague, discretionary standards that enabled licensing authorities to consider past crimes and minor legal violations that are unrelated to the profession being pursued by an applicant. Many of these laws also prohibit licensing authorities from using criminal history as a disqualification for licensure if a set period of time has passed since the applicant's conviction. Now, licensing boards in these states must give specific, relevant reasons for denying a license to someone based on a criminal conviction. As a result, their decisions are more transparent and ex-offenders are presented with fewer barriers when trying to obtain an occupational license. The Trump administration should push more states in this direction.

Simply put, corrections policy needs to promote work. Congress should continue working on legislation such as the First Step Act that passed the House this summer. Legislation like this offers inmates coming out of prison a second chance by implementing programs that prepare individuals for jobs. This is done by providing educational assistance, rehabilitation programs, and vocational skills development.

President Trump can improve his recent executive order by calling for hiring and apprenticeship initiatives that focus specifically on ex-offenders and utilizing the administration's close cooperation with business leaders. This will provide more momentum for state-level reforms that reduce licensing restrictions and other government barriers to work.

Work is the main key to reducing recidivism, thereby strengthening communities and bolstering public safety. With today's booming economy, now is the time to promote reentry reform by attacking burdensome occupational licensing regulations, advancing hiring reform, and creating an environment that encourages ex-offenders to find work. While President Trump is notorious for wanting to build walls, this portion of his agenda must aim to break down barriers.

Mitchell Siegel is an intern at the Foundation for Government Accountability. He is rising junior studying economics at Duke University.

The number of people serving life sentences now exceeds the entire prison population in 1970, according to newly-released data from the Sentencing Project. The continued growth of life sentences is largely the result of "tough on crime" policies pushed by legislators in the 1990s, including presidential candidate Joe Biden.

Biden has since apologized for backing those types of policies, but it seems he has yet to learn his lesson. Indeed, Biden is backing yet another criminal justice policy with disastrous consequences—mandatory drug treatment for all drug offenders.

Proponents of this policy argue that forced drug treatment will reduce drug usage and recidivism and save lives. But the evidence simply isn't on their side. Mandatory treatment isn't just patently unethical, it's also ineffective—and dangerous.

Many well-meaning people view mandatory treatment as a positive alternative to incarceration. But there's a reason that mandatory treatment is also known as "compulsory confinement." As author Maya Schenwar asks in The Guardian, "If shepherding live human bodies off to prison to isolate and manipulate them without their permission isn't ethical, why is shipping those bodies off to compulsory rehab an acceptable alternative?" Compulsory treatment isn't an alternative to incarceration. It is incarceration.

Compulsory treatment is also arguably a breach of international human rights agreements and ethical standards. The World Health Organization (WHO) and the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) have made it clear that the standards of ethical treatment also apply to the treatment of drug dependence—standards that include the right to autonomy and self-determination. Indeed, according to UNODC, "people who use or are dependent on drugs do not automatically lack the capacity to consent to treatment...consent of the patient should be obtained before any treatment intervention." Forced treatment violates a person's right to be free from non-consensual medical treatment.

It's a useless endeavor, anyway, because studies have shown that it doesn't improve outcomes in reducing drug use and criminal recidivism. A review of nine studies, published in the International Journal of Drug Policy, failed to find sufficient evidence that compulsory drug treatment approaches are effective. The results didn't suggest improved outcomes in reducing drug use among drug-dependent individuals enrolled in compulsory treatment. However, some studies did suggest potential harm.

According to one study, 33% of compulsorily-treated participants were reincarcerated, compared to a mere 5% of the non-treatment sample population. Moreover, rates of post-release illicit drug use were higher among those who received compulsory treatment. Even worse, a 2016 report from the Massachusetts Department of Public Health found that people who received involuntary treatment were more than twice as likely to die of an opioid-related overdose than those with a history of only voluntary treatment.

These findings echo studies published in medical journals like Addiction and BMJ. A study in Addiction found that involuntary drug treatment was a risk factor for a non-fatal drug overdose. Similarly, a study in BMJ found that patients who successfully completed inpatient detoxification were more likely than other patients to die within a year. The high rate of overdose deaths by people previously involuntarily treated is likely because most people who are taken involuntarily aren't ready to stop using drugs, authors of the Addiction study reported. That makes sense. People who aren't ready to get clean will likely use again when they are released. For them, the only post-treatment difference will be lower tolerance, thanks to forced detoxification and abstinence. Indeed, a loss of tolerance, combined with the lack of a desire to stop using drugs, likely puts compulsorily-treated patients at a higher risk of overdose.

The UNODC agrees. In their words, compulsory treatment is "expensive, not cost-effective, and neither benefits the individual nor the community." So, then, why would we even try?

Biden is right to look for ways to combat addiction and drug crime outside of the criminal justice system. But forced drug treatment for all drug offenders is a flawed, unethical policy, with deadly consequences. If the goal is to help people and reduce harm, then there are plenty of ways to get there. Mandatory treatment isn't one of them.

Lindsay Marie is a policy analyst for the Lone Star Policy Institute, an independent think tank that promotes freedom and prosperity for all Texans. You can follow her on Twitter @LindsayMarieLP.

President Donald Trump's personal attorney, Rudy Giuliani joined Glenn Beck on Tuesday's radio program discuss the Senate's ongoing investigation into former vice president Joe Biden's son, Hunter Biden, and reveal new bombshell documents he's currently releasing.

Giuliani told Glenn he has evidence of "very, very serious crime at the highest levels of government," that the "corrupt media" is doing everything in their power to discredit.

He also dropped some major, previously unreported news: not only was Hunter Biden under investigation in 2016, when then-Vice President Biden "forced" the firing of Ukraine's prosecutor general Viktor Shokin, but so was the vice president himself.

"Shokin can prove he was investigating Biden and his son. And I now have the prosecutorial documents that show, all during that period of time, not only was Hunter Biden under investigation -- Joe Biden was under investigation," Giuliani explained. "It wasn't just Hunter."

Watch this clip to get a rundown of everything Giuliani has uncovered so far.

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For most Americans, the 1980s was marked by big hair, epic lightsaber battles, and school-skipping Ferris Bueller dancing his way into the hearts of millions.

But for Bernie Sanders — who, by the way, was at that time the oldest-looking 40-year-old in human history — the 1980s was a period of important personal milestones.

Prior to his successful 1980 campaign to become mayor of Burlington, Vermont, Sanders was mostly known around the Green Mountain State as a crazy, wildly idealistic socialist. (Think Karl Marx meets Don Quixote.) But everything started to change for Sanders when he became famous—or, in the eyes of many, notorious—for being "America's socialist mayor."

As mayor, Sanders' radical ideas were finally given the attention he had always craved but couldn't manage to capture. This makes this period of his career particularly interesting to study. Unlike today, the Bernie Sanders of the 1980s wasn't concerned with winning over an entire nation — just the wave of far-left New York City exiles that flooded Vermont in the 1960s and 1970s — and he was much more willing to openly align himself with local and national socialist and communist parties.


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Over the past few weeks, I have been reading news reports of Sanders recorded in the 1980s — because, you know, that's how guys like me spend their Saturday nights — and what I've found is pretty remarkable.

For starters, Sanders had (during the height of the Soviet Union) a very cozy relationship with people who openly advocated for Marxism and communism. He was an elector for the Socialist Workers Party and promoted the party's presidential candidates in 1980 and 1984.

To say the Socialist Workers Party was radical would be a tremendous understatement. It was widely known SWP was a communist organization mostly dedicated to the teachings of Marx and Leon Trotsky, one of the leaders of the Russian Revolution.

Among other radical things I've discovered in interviews Sanders conducted with the SWP's newspaper — appropriately named The Militant (seriously, you can't make this stuff up) — is a statement by Sanders published in June 1981 suggesting that some police departments "are dominated by fascists and Nazis," a comment that is just now being rediscovered for the first time in decades.

In 1980, Sanders lauded the Socialist Workers Party's "continued defense of the Cuban revolution." And later in the 1980s, Sanders reportedly endorsed a collection of speeches by the socialist Sandinistas in Nicaragua, even though there had been widespread media reports of the Sandinistas' many human rights violations prior to Sanders' endorsement, including "restrictions on free movement; torture; denial of due process; lack of freedom of thought, conscience and religion; denial of the right of association and of free labor unions."

Sanders also traveled to Nicaragua and met with socialist President Daniel Ortega. He later called the trip a "profoundly emotional experience."

Sanders also traveled to Nicaragua and met with socialist President Daniel Ortega. He later called the trip a "profoundly emotional experience."

Comrade Bernie's disturbing Marxist past, which is far more extensive than what can be covered in this short article, shouldn't be treated as a mere historical footnote. It clearly illustrates that Sanders' brand of "democratic socialism" is much more than a $15 minimum wage and calls for single-payer health care. It's full of Marxist philosophy, radical revolutionary thinking, anti-police rhetoric, and even support for authoritarian governments.

Millions of Americans have been tricked into thinking Sanders isn't the radical communist the historical record — and even Sanders' own words — clearly show that he is. But the deeper I have dug into Comrade Bernie's past, the more evident it has become that his thinking is much darker and more dangerous and twisted than many of his followers ever imagined.

Tomorrow night, don't miss Glenn Beck's special exposing the radicals who are running Bernie Sanders' campaign. From top to bottom, his campaign is staffed with hard-left extremists who are eager to burn down the system. The threat to our constitution is very real from Bernie's team, and it's unlike anything we've ever seen before in a U.S. election. Join Glenn on Wednesday, at 9 PM Eastern on BlazeTV's YouTube page, and on BlazeTV.com. And just in case you miss it live, the only way to catch all of Glenn's specials on-demand is by subscribing to Blaze TV.

Justin Haskins (Jhaskins@heartland.org) is editorial director of The Heartland Institute and editor-in-chief of StoppingSocialism.com.

Candace Owens, BLEXIT founder and author of the upcoming book, "Blackout," joined Glenn Beck on Friday's GlennTV for an exclusive interview. available only to BlazeTV subscribers.

Candace dropped a few truth-bombs about the progressive movement and what's happening to the Democratic Party. She said people are practically running away from the left due to their incessant push to dig up dirt on anybody who disagrees with their radical ideology. She explained how -- like China and its "social credit score" -- the left is shaping America into its own nightmarish episode of "Black Mirror."

"This game of making sure that everyone is politically correct is a societal atom bomb. There are no survivors. There's no one that is perfect," Candace said. "The idea that humanity can be perfect is Godless. If you accept that there is something greater than us, then you accept that we a flawed. To be human is to be flawed."

Enjoy this clip from the full episode below:

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BlazeTV subscribers can watch the full interview on BlazeTV.com. Use code GLENN to save $10 off one year of your subscription.

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