Page 2 of 2 Previous
Freeman agrees with the new changes. The Minnesota Corrections Association also supports the new law because it recognizes the difference between nonviolent and violent offenders as it relates to balancing public safety with future opportunities and success for juveniles, said Jackie Nichols of the association’s Juvenile Justice Committee.
Target Corp. spokeswoman Molly Snyder said limited access won’t impact Target’s background check process, which excludes all applicants with convictions for serious violence, theft and sex crimes.
Studies show that juveniles who are given meaningful work experience take their education more seriously, said Will Lehman, community programs director for Howe Family YMCA of Greater Twin Cities. The Y found that the criminal records of people participating in their paid internships didn’t indicate how well they would perform at work.
“Minnesota is taking the lead with the new law, but it’s a nationwide issue that will affect our economy in the future,” he said.
Probation agent’s experience
Andrea Emery, a probation agent for 14 years, said clients stop in her office in tears every week because they are rejected for housing and thought their juvenile record was secret.
Shemonia, who lives in Red Wing, is one of her clients. He once interviewed for a fast-food restaurant job and when he called back a few days later, was told they weren’t hiring. Shemonia stopped by the restaurant and saw five new faces, he said.
“I was told several times I was being turned down because of my record,” he said.
Shemonia, who has a job with a company willing to hire people with criminal records, was charged with assault after fighting with a roommate “over stupid stuff” when he was 17. He wasn’t close with his family, frequently moved from state to state and had trouble staying in high school.
Emery said that Shemonia passed his high school equivalency test the first time and is definitely smart enough to go to college, but that the background checks are holding him back.
“I’m bummed the law only helps people going forward,” said Shemonia.
Although the law won’t benefit Shemonia, Haase and others are sure it will have an impact. Their faith is bolstered by the new Ban the Box law also passed this year, which requires public employers to wait until a job applicant has been selected for an interview before asking about criminal history or conducting a background check.
“I think the happenstance access to records won’t happen,” he said. “I hope the typical employer won’t get the records.”
David Chanen • 612-673-4465