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Philadelphia Ex-Councilman, Ex-Con Mariano Promotes ‘Ban The Box’ Legislation

PHILADELPHIA (CBS) – Former Philadelphia city councilman Rick Mariano, who spent four years in federal prison following a conviction for bribery, returned to Philadelphia City Council today for the first time since his release, to testify in support of a bill that helps ex-offenders get hired.

It was Mariano’s first appearance in City Council since spending four years in federal prison on the bribery conviction that drove him from office.

“I met presidents of the United States, mayors, governors, senators — and I can’t get a job,” Mariano told the Council hearing on a bill dubbed “Ban The Box.”

Mariano testified in support of a bill that places restrictions on the questions a prospective employer can ask ex-offenders, essentially eliminating the checkbox that convicted criminals must mark on job applications.

The bill was approved and sent to the full Council.

Mariano, meanwhile, still wears an electronic ankle bracelet and is looking for work as an electrician, but has no complaints.

“I’m out of jail.  Life is beautiful.  I’m blessed,” he said today.

Reported by KYW City Hall Bureau chief Mike Dunn.

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  • Chrissie Smith

    I think the whole system is a joke and people who support the system are a joke too. People who committ crimes are people with problems and for the most part dont need prison time at least not the way its set up today. In the end its all about power and money and a felony is designed to keep you trapted and poor, and when a person gets released from jail or prison come out with more problems than they had before and could someone tell me why its ok to judge someones past and really thinks its ok, ONLY GOD CAN JUDGE

  • Cecil

    Rick – The saying goes, If I have to explain, you wouldn’t understand. Mr. Avila will obviously never understand. Even after you have done time, paid fines, been on parole… He STILL insists on punishing people. My husband had a great career and is a very smart man. He made a mistake. White collar still got him in Max security in Brooklyn MDC. Didn’t matter that he should never have been in with that element, BOP does whatever, whereever, however they want. Guess Mr. Avila will never know the side of this that goes beyond repaying debt and boarders on torture. Your family is hurt, your friends, your finances, even my dogs paid the price watching me cry night and day about it. Mr. Avila shouldn’t speak about things he never has experienced. I know, it’s a living hell for everyone. My husband makes 12 per hour in a warehouse now. Life is very very hard. Ignorance does not make you right Mr. Avila. Good luck to you Rick, and to all the others who know what we are talking about. God give us strength, since no one else thinks we are ever done paying for the crime.

  • chucky

    I was released from prison 25 years ago (1986) after serving 6 years in a medium/max prison environment. I was naive enough to believe I could find a job by being honest on my job application. After 9 months, and the recommendation from my parole officer, (who promised he would not contact my employer) I began lying on my job applications. I was immediately offered multiple job opportunities and had to chose from different offers. Over the next 10 years I worked for a major corporation enjoying good pay and benefits. I eventually became supervisor over the engineering department. I lost my job through no fault of my own. My business unit was sold to another company that absorbed it into another. I actually worked for the new company for a while, but realized my job would soon be eliminated. So, I began looking for a job elsewhere. This time the game had changed. If I was honest on an application, I never received an interview, just like before. But when I lied I would receive job offers only to have them rescinded or be fired shortly after going to work. This was because the internet had come along and it had become trivial to do a background check. The legislation to omit the felony box on the application is a waste of time. Practically all medium to large companies that have decent wages and benefits have an HR department who will do a background check in the final stage of hiring a new employee. And they simply will not hire a person with a felony conviction, contrary to what their public stance is on the issue. I have proved this repeatedly.

    I learned along time ago that the “debt to society has been paid” means nothing. It comes down to the inability of enough people in general being unable to forgive. Focusing anger on a worthy target lessens one’s own pain from avoiding responsibility for deeds that they should have done to help, and didn’t, or did do but should not have. So many people go through a meaningless life because they focus on symbolic revenge, because the persons involved have nothing to do with the wrong that was committed to them.

    • roo1967

      That is not necessarily true. Most background checks are for the past 7 years. So as long as you have not done anything wrong no employer will know unless you spill the beans. Believe me I know

      • chucky

        That’s not true. A background check done by most HR departments will pull all entries that exist in the database for the social security number submitted. You may get lucky with the a particular company, but I submitted a job application at a local hospital, and was hired, and then fired after the background check revealed the conviction 12 years after.

    • dave

      its a very competitive environment out there.
      millions out of work.. its just one more thing that makes you less competitive in the marketplace.

      • chucky

        I wouldn’t call it one more thing that makes you less competitive. I would call it a SHOW STOPPER. Plain and simple it prevents you from being considered for a job. I am not looking for sympathy here either. I am merely pointing out that the bill prohibiting the felony box is a waste of time.

        I think its important for people interested in this issue to realize that the inability for an ex-con to obtain meaningful employment hurts the community as well as the individual involved. It increases the likelihood of further criminal activity if he or she cannot re-integrate into the community. And it’s worse, because you now have an educated criminal.

        I was able to start my own business and have done quite well in it. When I hire people I do a background check as well. I keep the report confidential so no one in my organization knows. And I use this information in my decision to hire. I do not simply deny employment because of a positive report. I am very interested in if the past is going to cause a problem and if the past has any relation to the job position. I have found that acknowledging a persons past and offering them a chance in my company often creates a fiercely loyal employee.

        I guess I’m, tiptoeing around the issue here, but the real problem is in the HR departments of the companies I’m referring too. They have the first say in who is interviewed by the hiring department and the last say in whether they are hired or not. And it is the makeup of the HR department that is the major problem.



  • Chip

    He mentions all of the dignataries he’s met, but fails to admit he’s obviously a VERY dishonest person……GO AWAY ex-con, GO AWAY!

  • Frederick Alexander Avila

    “Actually”? Do people often question whether or not you’re speaking realistically? Malcolm, how comfortable are you discovering the C.P.A. you hired last year is a convicted embezzler or the person teaching your kid Social Studies also has a history of identity fraud? I believe Mariano knew better than most the social and occupational consequences of the crimes he committed. Why should he not have to be forthcoming about them? If you don’t want to know if your potential employees and coworkers are felons, don’t find out. As for me, I think that information is important. “Actually”. Are you sure you don’t mean “basically”?

    • Julia Malcolm

      No, I meant actually.Avila. You’re missing the point. You were wrong. When someone is released from prison they have paid for their crime. It’s as simple as that. It doesn’t matter what line of work you are in. Get over yourself.

      • Frederick Alexander Avila

        Does the insulting ever win you points? As for doing time, when that part of your sentence is completed you move on to the next part: living with what you’ve done. You must admit your crime on every job application, passport application, etc, but it does not have to define you. If you feel your conviction creates prejudices against you, try to have another quality that more accurately identifies the person you are now Kindness and generosity are great ones. You must either choose to lie and conceal your past or (hopefully) deal with it. It may not be fun, but I believe it is just.
        P.S. Technique is everything. Rude as you’ve been, nothing you’ve said has encouraged me to consider your side of the argument. When you’re calling people wrong and claiming the “simple” side of things, you’re not CONVINCING anyone to listen to you. If your goal is to change minds, do your best appeal to the rational part of those minds and try to stay away from thier emotions.

      • Julia Malcolm

        No I don’t work for Mr Mariano. Is he able to hire people? Again, you have missed the point. As for kindness and generosity, you are right. They are great qualities. Mr Mariano works for a non profit trying to assist out of work people get employment. Not just convicted felons. He also works with veterans. And I didn’t insult you sir I just pointed out you were wrong. You are the one throwing insults around.. Have a nice day!

      • sumday

        avila- malcolm maybe rude but I’ve seen many silver tongues be polite yet still just as deceiving, and lying, and nothing you have said has swayed my opinion. I agree with Malcolm you go to jail and when you get out your DEBT TO SOCIETY IS PAID! SO SAYS THE COURTS! Now sure you have to live with what you’ve done but to continue to punish the person is unfair IMO. Just answer me this if we are going to treat ex-prisoners this way once they are out why even bother to let them out? you commit a crime it’s life period! Your mentality pretty much is the reason we do have so many repeat offenders- when you can’t get a job and everyone judges you by a mistake you made yrs ago (and paid for!) then what else is there? I know your righteous mind will say they deserve it (isn’t theory great) but the fact is we still have to deal with that person in life (doesn’t reality suck). when we have an 80% return rate on jails I’d say your opinion is flawed and not working. personally I careless about theory n morals, I care about what works and gets results (YES THE END DOES JUSTIFY THE MEANS!)- we have done your way for yrs (you probably think locking up a drug user works and stops drug use too- it doesn’t and we 70yr of proof of that) and has it worked? but I do digress I would probably hire an illegal before I hired a convicted thief.

  • Frank Graff

    Rick, I am glad your home, and wish you well. However, I can’t support your Ban, because it’s condoning bad behavior. While you were away, things have gone awry, and we are fed up with the very people you place your confidence in. They are turning a blind eye to the people, and we are about to change the entire council. But, I do wish you well, you had a lot of good points once.

  • Frederick Alexander Avila

    If you hadn’t been excepting bribes, you wouldn’t have these problems! Why can’t you work at Wallmart, McDonald’s, or one of the many other jobs available to you? Are they beneath you? Millions of Philadelphians have been working all thier lives for a lot less than you were getting paid and didn’t turn to crime. Just because you’re out of prison, DOES NOT mean you no longer have to pay for the crimes you have committed!

    • Julia Malcolm

      Actually Mr Avila, when someone is released from prison it DOES mean you have paid for your crimes. You should know at least a little about what you are talking about before spouting off like that. Have a great day!

    • Rick mariano

      no .I would work where ever I had to. You are missing the whole point of this bill. It is no about me .It is about many, many others. i have a job and a trade. Nothing is beneath me. Have a nice day and God bless you .

      Rick Mariano

      • maint.charlie

        Hello Rick Mariano:
        I believe you’re trying to do a justful thing. Us tax payers pay to send people away for wrongful doing. We pay in taxes to have wrong doers represented. We also pay in taxes to have them get an education, a trade or some type of skill, then, on the other hand when they get out, we say, “Have you ever been convicted of a felony”, etc. and end up turning them down for the job. IF ANYTHING SHOULD BE ASKED, it should be, “Have you ever been convicted for a crime that has been job related to the one you are applying for?” Yes or No. We are wasting tax dollars with all the programs, attorney fees, DA fees, etc., etc. If the conviction was not job related, sex related, child related, it should not be on job applicatons.

    • sumday

      Um that statement goes against what the courts say- AFTER YOU GET OUT YOUR DEBT TO SOCIETY IS PAID FOR! (or at least after your probation is over). We do not punish people for life although pl like you want to. You can have your opinion on things, but on this subject I’ll stick with what the courts of this country has said and agreed upon- we have 1 punishment for crimes and when that punishment (determined by the courts) is over their debt to society is paid for according to the justice system.

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