MSNBC reports that on April 25, the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission approved new guidelines to make it easier for convicted criminals to gain employment. The EEOC said that employers should use background checks carefully, citing that a criminal past should not be the sole reason for dismissing a potential job candidate. The new guidelines allow for background checks only to be run when it is relevant to the business, and states that employers need to consider the length of time that has passed since the crime had occurred. As someone who is always willing to give criminals a second chance, here is why this is great news for the economy, and great news for convicted criminals everywhere.
The EEOC made this ruling in part because of the rate of minority groups that are criminals, such as African Americans and Hispanics, but everyone benefits from these changes. If more employers would allow felons to gain employment, the unemployment levels would decrease, and there would be more people spending money in the marketplace. When you have criminals out of work, it is more likely that they will commit a crime to make some money illegally, and putting them back in jail is only hurting the taxpayers. I understand that employers are cautious when hiring a criminal, especially someone convicted of drugs or theft, but everyone should have a chance at redemption.
Criminals as a whole have been discriminated against for a long time, and in this shaky economy, the discrimination is even more noticeable. The fact of the matter is, there are a lot of criminals that want to work and need to work in order to fulfill probation requirements, but have lost out on opportunities because of a minor incident. I have known people that have lost out on high paying jobs because of a misdemeanor marijuana conviction from 20 years ago, and this is just not right at all. Employers have also been known to use an arrest as a sign of a conviction or guilt, which is not fair considering people are wrongfully arrested every day. I do think the guidelines should have included a cutoff time when looking at convictions, such as only taking the background check back five years.
When you are young, you sometimes do stupid things and pay the price, but being punished over that mistake for your entire working adult life is a crime just the same. The only thing I worry about is the fact that it might detract customers away from the business, if it is known that convicted felons were hired. There are a lot of people who judge criminals without knowing their situation at the time, and they might think the business is shady or involved in illegal activities too. It is important to keep the convicted criminal on a tight leash for a while, until he or she can prove to the company he or she is not a liability.