Thi Vu, Portland

Banning the box will allow someone like me to get an interview so that I can show who I am today, not who I was. Potential employers can assess my qualifications for the job and I’m not immediately removed from the applicant pool because of my past mistakes.
— Thi Vu

When Thi Vu would answer truthfully to the question, "Have you ever been convicted of a felony?" he was always denied an interview. When he would lie and get the interview, most times he would get the job. Unfortunately as he would advance further in the company a background check would have to be run. His felonies would be found out and he would be terminated. His employers always said that they regretted having to do this, but when he asked them if they would have hired him if he had been truthful initially, they would always answer no.

Patricia Coldeen, Eugene

While incarcerated I was able to participate in a treatment program in which I took responsibly for my own actions and I made a commitment to change. For the first time in many years, I felt positive and hopeful for my future. It wasn’t long however, those hopes diminished. I began feeling discouraged when door after door of employment opportunity closed on me, all because of the question on the application; have you ever been convicted of a felony? I knew if I checked that box the application would be discarded.
— Patricia Coldeen

Due to an untreated drug addiction, Patricia was arrested and in 2007 and finally got the drug treatment she so desperately needed.

Patricia is presently a student in the University of Oregon’s Family and Human Services program. She has earned an Associates of Arts from Lane Community College and is a certified drug and alcohol counselor through the state of Oregon. She has worked part-time as a counselor at Willamette Family drug treatment program and volunteers with the non-profit organization Partnership for Safety and Justice, where she helps to make Oregon’s approach to public safety more effective and just. She has been a valued employee at Jackson's Food for 6 years now where she feels it is not only important to work hard to show her gratitude, but to ensure that they continue people like her a fair chance at employment.

Theresa Sweeney, Portland

This ban would allow us the opportunity to meet with potential employers and let them evaluate us as individuals, instead of a criminal history.
— Theresa Sweeney

Theresa Sweeney is a mother of 3 and active community member. In 2003 she was convicted on two felony forgery counts. She was paroled in 2004 and was able to complete parole early and earn a B.S. in Criminology and Criminal Justice from Portland State University. She could not secure employment in her field of study but was finally able to attain employment. After 3 years she decided to return to school and earn her master's degree. Despite her education, work experience, and the 7 years which had passed since her conviction, she still found her employment options severely limited.

Jim Houser, Portland

Twenty-eight years go, I hired an employee who was upfront about his criminal history. He recently retired after nearly three decades as one of my best employees. As a small business owner, I know that giving people a second chance to succeed boosts the economy and helps put communities and families back together.
— Jim Houser

Jim Houser owns and operates Hawthorne Auto Clinic.

AuthorChristine Saunders