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Thanks for reading the article. It's true that hiring ex-felons can be a literal insurance liability, but there are government perks for hiring ex-felons like the Work Opportunity Tax Credit that can give up to $2,400 and eligibility for a no-cost, bonding opportunity of up to $25,000. As for the tip-of-the-iceberg issue you speak of, this story is not so much about how hard high unemployment is on everyone during this recession, as big an issue as it is.
It's more about a certain unemployment issue that pre-dates the recession, one that coincides with a 70 percent recidivism rate in California (as the article mentions, 60-80 percent of felons are estimated to be unemployed). If you take a step back, the state is spending billions incarcerating those 70 percent of recidivists and billions on social programs for those 30 percent of people who have turned their life around but can't seem to climb out of a very low economic status no matter what they do.
I'd love to see a discussion regarding this question: Is it worth it for Californians to continue blacklisting people like Hawk Aavan Jonsson and Susan Burton, no matter what they do to redeem themselves?
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