YPSILANTI, MI – People with felony convictions cannot be discriminated against in Ypsilanti in a new addition to the city’s non-discrimination ordinance that passed Tuesday.
Ypsilanti City Council voted unanimously to make ex-offenders a city-protected class at its meeting on March 3. Elected officials said the move will help returning citizens reintegrate into society and address racial disparities.
Speakers during public comment said felony convictions are particularly challenging to finding employment and housing after returning from prison or parole. Several said a felony conviction can often act as a discrimination tactic as a proxy for race since incarceration rates for people of color and whites are disproportionate.
The ordinance allows for exceptions if the conviction directly relates to safety or another direct relationship between the offense and the job, housing or other opportunity. Councilman Steve Wilcoxen said some residents were concerned about sex offenders, but he noted those on the sex offender registry already have limitations in place of where they can live and work.