Rhode Island’s treatment and recovery advocacy community has coalesced around the challenging issue of employment prospects for people in recovery who have a felony record.
The Providence Journal reported this week that more than 200 people packed the home of the state legislature to support several proposed bills to assist recovering addicts in securing jobs. The group, organized by Rhode Island Communities for Addiction Recovery Efforts (RICARES), also gathered in opposition to a measure currently under discussion among lawmakers: The proposal would include a felony drug conviction among offenses that would bar a job candidate from being hired in healthcare organizations.
Clearly, advocates see that such a measure could severely restrict addiction treatment facilities’ access to some of the most potentially effective staff members they can identify. One member of the group attending the State House event was quoted as saying, “Historically, they have been the most successful people working in the field,” referring to counselors who have experienced the horrors of addiction and have a criminal justice history.
As recovery support continues to become a more prominent issue in the continuum of care, advocates need to pay attention to systemic barriers to long-term recovery. Look for more coverage of the employment issue on our website in the coming days.