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View Diary: 'Ban the box' to keep ex-prisoners from being locked into a life of crime (88 comments)

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  •  Right .. all those things can be done. (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    JamesGG

    But that involves a considerable amount of effort and just because it is difficult does not mean we shouldn't try.

    Convictions matter much more when the population is conditioned to fear anyone with a conviction. Remove that and much of the problem will go away.

    The idea that we should disadvantage everyone because a few, in smaller communities, might be at a disadvantage is not really supportable. Besides, in smaller communities the person is more likely to be "known", for much more than a simple conviction. That can be an advantage.

    I hope that the quality of debate will improve,
    but I fear we will remain Democrats.

    Who is twigg?

    by twigg on Sat Feb 15, 2014 at 10:08:26 AM PST

    [ Parent ]

    •  I have to admit that I'm skeptical... (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      twigg, patbahn

      ...because I believe in the principle of an open and public judicial system.

      When a prosecutor brings a case against a defendant in the US court system, he or she isn't doing so in the name of the state or the government, but in the name of the people. As such, I think we have a right to know what's being done in our name, in order to be able to hold those who represent us in court accountable.

      If anything, I think we need more information about the actions of our prosecutors—not just things like conviction rates (which, when "higher is better," carry the assumption that all defendants are guilty), and more public accountability for those who are bringing cases against defendants in the name of the people.

      Further, I think history teaches us that once we make criminal proceedings secret instead of holding them in an open and public court, we open up the floodgates to a lot of other problems that could make the criminal justice system even more unfair to defendants (if you believe that's possible). Having a judicial system that operates in the public eye can protect against even more egregious abuses of justice.

      I completely agree that the plight of those who have been convicted of felonies and find it hard to get work afterward is a problem, but I'm really skeptical of the idea that the solution is to make all criminal proceedings into secret courts.

      "When I give food to the poor, they call me a saint. When I ask why the poor have no food, they call me a communist." --Dom Helder Camara, archbishop of Recife

      by JamesGG on Sat Feb 15, 2014 at 10:44:10 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  You have misunderstood my point. (5+ / 0-)

        Which is fine, I expect many Americans to not get it and maybe I need to explain it better.

        I have a criminal record in my home country. If you were employing me in any regular job, you could not go look up my record from any official source, those records are sealed.

        However, the case was heard in an open court, and extensively reported, so if you knew where to look you could find it. That is not what I am complaining about, nor do I think it should be changed.

        So most prospective employers would not have any idea that I had a conviction, unless I told them, but here is the rub .... I am legally bound to tell them at the point I accept an offer of employment. At that point they are free to make a decision.

        So I can get right to the point of accepting a job BEFORE I disclose a conviction, and even then it only has to be disclosed to the employer ... not a clerk, or secretary who opens the mail. Not to a low-level employee who pre-screens applications, and not to an employment agency ... only to the employer. It is a matter between me and them only.

        If I do not disclose, and am later found out, that would be a criminal offense with a two year jail penalty.

        The length of time that the "disclosure" mandate applies depends upon the seriousness and nature of the offense.

        So nothing bars a potential employer for digging out old court transcripts and press reports, but they cannot simply apply to have my record exposed, the disclosure is my responsibility on pain of imprisonment.

        That gives me as good a shot at a job offer as anyone else, and gives me the opportunity to clearly present my case before disclosing something that might make a potential employer re-think.

        It is a system that works rather well.

        ps ... Here in the US I do not have to make ANY disclosures, because the SCOTUS has ruled that a crime in another country is not a felony here, although the US government is perfectly aware of my past, and saw fit to grant permanent residence.

        I hope that the quality of debate will improve,
        but I fear we will remain Democrats.

        Who is twigg?

        by twigg on Sat Feb 15, 2014 at 11:02:09 AM PST

        [ Parent ]

        •  maybe our felons need to emigrate? (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          twigg

          This country was founded by Bankrupts, Prison scum
          and religious whackos,  maybe it's time for
          a new place?

        •  I understand better now... thanks. (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          twigg
          However, the case was heard in an open court, and extensively reported, so if you knew where to look you could find it. That is not what I am complaining about, nor do I think it should be changed. [...]

          So nothing bars a potential employer for digging out old court transcripts and press reports, but they cannot simply apply to have my record exposed, the disclosure is my responsibility on pain of imprisonment.

          That makes a bit more sense, I think, and certainly answers my previous objections... the impression I'd gotten was that you wanted criminal proceedings not to be public at all.

          But I have to admit that I'm skeptical as to how much impact that would have in the US on the hiring of felons, were it to go into effect. With more and more information on the internet, I think it's becoming much easier to "know where to look" to find information about criminal proceedings against someone, particularly if they were recorded in the press.

          I think that the companies that do other forms of background checks would be able to match up a name and some identifying details with criminal proceedings if they had the court transcripts or press reports.

          I think it's something about employment culture that needs to change, rather than the information available to employers during the hiring process—because in the present information environment, I don't think we can assume that information like prior felony convictions can go "back into the box" and be unavailable to employers.

          "When I give food to the poor, they call me a saint. When I ask why the poor have no food, they call me a communist." --Dom Helder Camara, archbishop of Recife

          by JamesGG on Sat Feb 15, 2014 at 12:01:57 PM PST

          [ Parent ]

          •  I agree, it is about the culture (1+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            JamesGG

            because the majority of felons pose zero risk to their employers. Indeed, many are so grateful to have a job at all that I imagine they are quite diligent.

            We might, at the same time, do something about reducing the number of felons we create.

            Good conversation, thanks :)

            I hope that the quality of debate will improve,
            but I fear we will remain Democrats.

            Who is twigg?

            by twigg on Sat Feb 15, 2014 at 02:00:07 PM PST

            [ Parent ]

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