Everyone deserves an opportunity for employment despite a criminal record

Published by adviser, Author: Joseph Szalinski - Rocket Contributor , Date: February 15, 2017
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Having a job is crucial to serving as a functional member of society. Being employed allows people to pay bills, stimulate the economy, provide for themselves and/or their families and help other people. Unfortunately, there are those who are unable to work for a variety of reasons: they might be suffering from a disability, they might have been laid off/fired or they might have a criminal record that prevents them from securing employment.

Understandably, convicts are not the most sought-after employees. Many employers are uncomfortable hiring people who have been found guilty of violating some sort of law. If someone breaks the law, then it can reasonably be assumed that the individual would not be able to follow rules and possibly break the law at the workplace. Someone arrested for shoplifting may find it difficult applying for a position stocking shelves and working with a store’s inventory.

Yes, law-abiding citizens (and those smart enough to not get caught) should be given priority when it comes to being considered for a job. But while employers should be cautious and concerned, convicts shouldn’t be given the short end of the stick so often and so quickly.

Everyone needs to eat and get on their feet. Simply barring those with records from assimilating into “conventional society” only causes disenfranchisement and further disengagement from realizing one’s role as a member of said society. Feeling unwelcome only makes people react more negatively.

I’m not saying employers should go out of their way to hire convicts, but situations should be approached with more of an open mind. If the offense was small and a fine was paid off, then justice was served swiftly and there should be no concern, given that the behavior is not going to continue, especially when an individual is employed in a particular business. If someone was locked up and served actual prison time, then situations should be approached with more of a vetting process, but at the same time, the applicant already served his or her time and paid for his or her actions. To deny this is to argue that prison is not rehabilitative in any sense and that it is useless to send people there unless they are in for life or put to death.

Keep in mind, prison is supposed to turn miscreants into model citizens. Consider this: how do a lot of people maintain good behavior? By having a job. Granted, the kind of work one has to do is definitely limited in scope, given that said applicant has a criminal record, but it should not be a no-holds-barred ban, but rather, something additional to consider.

We forget that criminals are people too, and most convicts are non-violent drug offenders, who have been punished by a system that still advocates for draconian legislation and execution. Most of the time, it’s just bad luck and subpar circumstance, and not a desire to disrupt the social fabric and societal norms.

 

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