Rally at Pittsburgh City Council chambers seeks better access to city jobs for ex-offenders

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About 30 people rallied in front of Pittsburgh City Council chambers today in support of legislation that would give ex-offenders a better shot at landing city jobs.

In January, for the second time in as many years, Councilman Ricky Burgess introduced a bill that would require the city to remove a question about criminal history from job applications.

Mr. Burgess said the question too often is used to disqualify ex-offenders out of hand and believes it would be fairer to discuss criminal history after an applicant passes the initial screening process.

The bill Mr. Burgess introduced last year died at the end of the legislative term. Since he re-introduced it in January, the bill has not moved forward, and a coalition of groups held the rally today to urge its passage.

Speakers said a lack of employment opportunity is a chief cause of recidivism.

"When people want to work and want to meet their financial obligations, give them the opportunity to do so," said Anna Hollis, executive director of Amachi Pittsburgh, an organization that works with children of the incarcerated.

Mr. Burgess did not attend the rally, but council members Bruce Kraus and Natalia Rudiak attended and offered their support.

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Joe Smydo: jsmydo@post-gazette.com or 412-263-1548.


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