Christal Fields wasn't allowed to explain.
She was successfully working in child care when the Department of Early Learning conducted a background check and found a decades-old conviction for attempted robbery. For that reason only, the Department denied her the right to continue working in her chosen field.
Christal wasn't allowed to explain that the conviction was from nearly 30 years ago when she tried to steal a stranger's purse. She wasn't allowed to explain that, at the time, she was homeless, struggling with substance use, and a victim of domestic violence. She wasn't allowed to explain that her life now looks nothing like it did back then. That she has long been sober, has raised her children and her grandchildren, and regularly volunteers with the Seattle Police Department, helping those who - like her as a young woman - are going through difficult times.
She went from thriving in a profession to being banned from it for life. All because of a conviction for which she had long ago paid the price.
We all deserve a second chance.
Depriving people with convictions of the right to work hurts their families and our communities. Yet there are still many unfair laws that permanently ban people with criminal records from working in a number of professions, no matter how old their convictions or how much they've changed their lives.
Women are most harmed by these restrictions since female-dominated fields like nursing, child care, home health care, and teaching are more likely to require background checks than male-dominated occupations, such as construction or janitorial work.
This is doubly unfair considering women with convictions are disproportionately poor women of color, who already face employment discrimination. Restrictions on what kind of work a formerly incarcerated woman can do only widens the wage gap and destabilizes communities.
A criminal record should not be a life sentence of discrimination. We're standing with Christal and challenging unfair barriers to success for women who have been incarcerated. Will you join us?