WASHINGTON (AP) — A new report by a nonprofit group has found that nearly half of District of Columbia residents with a criminal past may be unemployed.

The report being released Thursday by the Council for Court Excellence in Washington found in a survey of 550 previously incarcerated individuals that 46 percent were unemployed. That’s significantly higher than the city’s overall 11 percent unemployment rate.

The group says research has shown that having a job makes a person less likely to return to a life of crime and recommends a series of steps lawmakers should take to boost employment for former inmates. Those recommendations include giving a certificate of good standing to inmates who have completed their sentences and passing a law to protect business that hire former prisoners from lawsuits.

“We want to see concrete steps taken to alleviate the situation,” said June Kress, the head of the Council for Court Excellence, which wrote the report.

According to the report, some 60,000 people living in the District of Columbia have criminal records, or about 10 percent of the city’s 600,000 residents. In addition to its findings of high unemployment, the report found there was little difference in employment for people who had used their time in prison to earn a job certificate or GED.

The D.C. Council plans to hold a hearing Friday on programs and services available to residents who are returning to the community from prison.

(© Copyright 2011 The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.)


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