Denied a Job Because of Criminal Record: Is It Discrimination?

Got a criminal history and can't get a job? That's discrimination, according to Washington D.C. council member and ex-Mayor Marion Barry (he would say that now, wouldn't he?):

“The idea of the criminal justice system is, they send you to jail for rehabilitation and punishment, and once you have served your time, it seems to me, your debt has been paid to society,” said Barry, who has had several run-ins with the law, including a 1990 conviction for misdemeanor drug possession.

In recent years, as officials have grappled with the city’s unemployment rate of nearly 12 percent, Mayor Vincent C. Gray (D) and the council have pledged to reexamine the treatment of ex-offenders trying to reenter the workforce.

As Barry noted, about 10 percent of D.C. residents have a criminal record. People with such records, advocates and city leaders say, are far less likely to be hired — which is one reason the jobless rate exceeds 20 percent in Ward 8.

If Barry’s legislation is adopted, an employer would be allowed to inquire about a criminal record only after a “conditional (job) offer” has been made. If an employer rescinds the offer based on a past arrest, he would have to submit documentation explaining why the applicant could not work in that job.

Link (Photo: dbking/Wikipedia)

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I suspect probably none of you will watch the lecture I just posted. So let me give a quick overview:

The author claims that criminologists can learn from incremental theories of development in developmental psychology. He compares "entity" theories of mind versus "incremental" theories of mind, and argues normatively that taking an "incremental" approach would benefit a society whose approach is largely "entity".

The findings are as such; When a behavior is attributed to a supposed inner character trait that is native to the individual in question, it sets up a social atmosphere in which redemption is not likely. Whereas when a behavior is attributed to a naivite or ignorance and the possibility of learning, improving and redeeming are available to the child (or criminal) then learning, improving and redeeming become more likely.

Though many crime institutions take incremental approaches to crime, the vast majority do not, moreover the society at large provides the main texture of social opinion, and it is here that "entity" theories hold sway. In other words; the public at large (you and me) think like entity theorists and this increases the chance of criminal recidivism.

I know this is hard to take because we like to clearly distinguish ourselves as "The good guys" and the criminal as "The bad guy" but this is wrong and blinds us to our own contributions in the noosphere. Our contributions dramatically affect recidivism rates and the initial incidence of crime.

A thorough understanding of this dynamic is still being researched and will probably not be intuitively obvious to the average arm-chair criminologist with a chip on his shoulder and a hate on for "criminals".
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In the past two decades, the science of criminology has focused considerable attention on the topic of desistance from crime or how and why individuals active in crime “go straight.” This research has been instrumental in the design and assessment of strategies for reducing recidivism through resettlement or reintegration support. Criminologists, however, have had little to say about the issue of “redemption” or what it should require for individuals to be officially forgiven of their crimes and have their “good names” restored. In this talk, I will outline the need for a discussion of secular redemption in society and discuss the implications of criminological research in this regard.

Redeeming Redemption as a Criminological Concept
author: Shadd Maruna, Queen's University Belfast School of Law
published: Oct. 30, 2009, recorded: September 2009, views: 330
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you don't know what made him/her become a criminal. And when you have completed your sentence, you are, once again, kind of reborn. So yes, it is discrimination (but after-all, its not a perfect world)
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I work in a jail. I know the type of people who are going out in to society after having committed a crime. They are repeat offenders who spend half their time in jail and half their time committing crimes that get them arrested again. They grow up in jail and they start their time when they are children. They cannot make a right choice. If they were faced with a decision to tell the truth or suffer. They will choose to suffer. I see it every day. They are not the kind of people you want to work with. You don't want your family or friends working with them either.

They are not rehabilitated, they are only introduced to new methods on how to commit more crimes. There is no such thing as rehabilitation in jail or prison. The idea of rehabilitation is about as real as teaching morals to an alligator.

The few people who have been to jail and never go back are getting along just fine in life. They have a job and are making it just like every other decent human being.
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If we don't hire people with a criminal history, they have two choices: become homeless or go back to crime. Why in the world don't we let these people re-enter society? How are they going to remain productive, honest members of society if we don't let them?
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