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In three Americans has either an arrest or a conviction record. It can create barriers to getting a job, to getting housing, to getting an education. And so this creates significant friction in the labor market. By some estimates, the cost to the economy is roughly $70 to $80 billion annually. And those are real costs to the economy. But more importantly, they're real cost to families and individuals and communities.
When I was a teenager, I was arrested and pled guilty to a misdemeanor. So for the next 20 years, every time I got a new job, every time I got into when I got into law school and seeking admission to the bar, I would constantly have to give context and explanation about why I have a misdemeanor conviction on my record. I feel like I've been really fortunate to be able to get my law degree, to be able to work at J. P. Morgan Chase, and there's something I can offer to people who could use some help.
Over the last three years, roughly 10 % of our new hires have been people with criminal records whose history had no bearing on the job that they were being hired to do and that fit within our regulatory framework.
Jp Morgan Chase is a band the box company. What that means is we do not ask about someone's criminal backgrounds during the application or selection process. It's important so that they get a fair shot and that their skills and their talents speak for them.
People who have spent time in prison tend to earn around half as much annually compared to their peers, people who are very much similar to them in other respects, who do not have a criminal record. Time in prison sets people on a permanently different and lower income trajectory relative to the general population. The same actually held true for lower level criminal records. Even a misdemeanor conviction can reduce someone's annual earnings by around 15 %.
Once someone has fulfilled their justice system obligations, they should be able to move on from that record. It should not have to follow them around for the rest of their life if they're eligible to have a record sealed or expunged. The vast majority of people in this country never pursue the expungement or sealing process because it is complex and costly and time consuming. We have this uneven playing field for folks who don't have the time and the resources to be able to move on from their records.
The way that these statutes act on all these different convictions, it's complicated. And trying to figure out the right way to submit these application, which can vary not only from state to state, but from county to county, it's incredibly difficult. To expect someone who does not work in a legal field to be able to navigate this alone is too tall of an order.
Clean slate or automatic record expungement legislation is important because in a particular state or jurisdiction, we'll identify lower level or low risk crimes that can be automatically sealed or expunged, which means it doesn't have to go before a judge. And that really levels the playing field for folks who may not have the resources or the time to go through that petition based process that many states have now.
The obvious advantage to an automatic ceiling system is that it reaches many more people. One of the concerns that we've heard from lawmakers is that it does cost money. It takes an upfront investment. And it's been extremely powerful to have JPMorgan Chase at our side to help answer that argument and make a clear case both to skeptical lawmakers and to the public that we can have a serious return on investment as more people enter the workforce and become contributing members of the workforce.
One of our lawyers on the Pro Bono legal team reached out to me one day. He's a lawyer who's in Chicago. He said, Hey, I've been reading about this Second Chance work. He said, We've now built these community branches that JP Morgan Chase has, do you think we could host some expungement clinics in our community branches? We immediately saw that this creates tremendous value for the community and on the ground in the communities that we're serving. Now we're in the process of replicating that and scaling that to other communities. I remember.
Clients coming in and saying to me, What is going on today? I said, Oh, we're doing an expungement clinic. They were blown away. Chase is doing what? That word is getting out. And not only did we help people that day, but we referred other people who were just in the lobby and saw that we were doing this. I had a gentleman who, particularly that day, was running a few minutes late, and he had an appointment and we told him, We're going to take care of you, but we're running a little bit behind if you don't mind waiting. And he looked at us and he said, I've waited 35 years for this. I don't mind waiting.
We bring the whole firm to this effort on second chance. Everybody plays a role. We need all the players on the field playing their position in order to be able to advance policy effectively.
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