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Southfield, Mich. — Dec. 18, 2014 — Calling it a weak attempt to remedy the serious problem of individuals who are unemployed because of a criminal conviction, Neil Rockind, founder of Southfield-based criminal defense law firm, Neil Rockind, P.C., blasted the new Public Act 360, signed into law by Gov. Rick Snyder this week. The law aims to get employers to hire people with criminal convictions after they are released from prison through a certificate of employability issued through the Department of Corrections.
Under the new law, which goes into effect on Jan. 1, prisoners must meet certain criteria upon their release from prison in order to receive the certificate. Employers who hire an individual that was issued one of the certificates is then given immunity from certain torts, such as personal injury or wrongful death, because the certificate establishes that the employer did not act negligently in hiring.
“I think it is a weak attempt to remedy a serious problem,” Rockind said. “It is not a fear of liability that makes felons unemployable; it is a fear of reputation loss or other business repercussions that impede hiring.”
Rockind asserts there are more effective ways to spur the hiring of felons who have paid their debt to society and earned a spot in the workforce.
“Prohibiting a background check for certain felonies, such as possession of a controlled substance, drunk driving-3rd offense, domestic violence, manufacture of marihuana, or delivery of controlled substances is a better approach,” Rockind said. “Keeping a non-public record of people who are “employable” is a better approach. Giving businesses monetary or tax incentives to hire ex-convicts is a better approach.”
While Rockind sees no harm in the certificate of employability concept, he doesn’t anticipate the new law having much of an impact.
“I’d be very surprised to see measurable improvement in the hiring of felons as a result of this new law,” Rockind said. “It appears to offer a band aid for a gaping wound in Michigan’s criminal justice system.”
About Neil Rockind, P.C.
Neil Rockind, P.C., is a Southfield, Michigan-based criminal defense law firm aggressively pursuing justice for adults and juveniles facing criminal charges, including white collar crime and school discipline matters. To find out more about the firm’s services and resources, visit http://www.rockindlaw.com/.