Education program ends revolving door for some ex-cons
Todd Johnson, The Grio | April 7, 2011

Harlem, New York — At just 21 years old, Brandon Johnson’s life is already at a crossroads.

His life changed some four years ago as a senior in high school. He was charged with gang assault and robbery — a crime he says he witnessed but had no involvement in.

“It doesn’t matter who you are or where you come from,” Johnson said. “If you just happen to be in the wrong place, it could happen to you.”

After he graduated from high school in 2008, the felony charge cost Brandon his job as an early childhood-care worker at Harlem’s Children Zone.

And in December 2010, his conviction led to other potential employers to follow suit.

“[Employers] look at your resume and they go, ‘alright well’ and then they look at a background check and it’s like, [that becomes who you are to society],” Johnson said. “[Employers say] this is who you are and you’re cut short.”

The United States has an estimated 14 million ex-offenders of working age whose job prospects are considerably lower than those without records.  (Read more)