ScreenDiscussion

Blogging background checking and security issues

3.04.2005

Convicted Criminals Get a Second Chance

An article recently published notes that in 15 states, non-violent felony or misdemeanor convictions can be expunged by the report. They'll still be available to government agencies and select public institutions, but for more employers they won't be seen. The criminal has to be on good behavior for a period of time, sometimes for as little as three years, and can then apply to have the record expunged. This presents a challenge to employers in those states. Someone could be hire who is believed to have a clear criminal record, but is in actuality someone who has fairly recently been in jail for embezzlement or some other non-violent crime. Sure, they might not physically attack anyone in the company, but what about theft of company property or funds?

This brings up what I think is an interesting issue: Is there a place for a second chance? I imagine the procedure mentioned above has at its heart the idea that people ought to be given room to change. People do change - I've heard many stories. However, the article mentioned above states that the nationwide number of people who get out of prison and return within three years is about 50%. No doubt the number is higher when the number of years considered is more than three. But even so, in my opinion that's a lot of people who have changed and can probably handle becoming part of normal life again and working a decent job. I tend to think that unless there is a clear indication that an individual will soon commit another crime, he or she ought to be given a second chance at life. Maybe I'm soft, but I know that those of us who have never committed a crime have still done plenty of things wrong. As a society we are very good at dealing harshly with the faults of others, and dealing very lightly with our own.

Of course, there is the fact that companies have to consider the legal implications of potentially hiring someone with an expunged, non-violent criminal record. There are two sides, one of which says that the company can be held responsible, even if the record was expunged, and another that says that the company cannot be held responsible for something it didn't know about. The second view is obviously the most logical at face value, but in the event of a large corporate scandal involving an employee whose felony record has been expunged I wouldn't be confident saying that the company would emerge unscathed.

0 Comments:

Post a Comment

<< Home