by John Hawkins | October 13, 2005 9:11 am
Oh, yeah, this is a great idea:
“SAN FRANCISCO — Elected leaders here Tuesday took a step unusual for politicians: They sided with felons.
With no debate, supervisors unanimously urged the city and county to delete the question about prior convictions from public employment applications.
The resolution is not binding. And it does not prevent employers from conducting criminal background checks or asking about prior felonies during job interviews.
“It’s very important, because it gives you an opportunity to sell yourself to the employer,” Robert Bowden, 42, an ex-convict who has been out of prison for seven years, said after the vote. “It gives you another option other than going back to what you did…. If they want us to be productive members of society, they’ve got to let us back into society.”
In introducing the measure two weeks ago, Supervisor Tom Ammiano stressed that it would broaden the city’s pool of qualified applicants while reinvesting in ex-convicts who are working to rehabilitate themselves.”
We like to say that people who’ve gotten out of prison have paid their “debt to society.” While that may be true, it doesn’t mean that the fact they owed society a debt in the first place should be forgotten by potential employers.
To take the “prior convictions” question off of a job application is to in effect say that it’s irrelevant if a former child molester works in a government run day care center. It means that it should concern no one if a man convicted of embezzlement can get a job as a government accountant. It is to imply that a rape conviction would be irrelevant to whether someone should be able to get a government job that may allow them to have access to people’s homes.
If businesses or even the government want to hire ex-convicts, that’s fine. In fact, depending on the situation, it may even work out very well. But, for very obvious reasons, that’s a decision that employers should be able to make with open eyes. You’d think that even liberals from San Francisco would get that…
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