Canada Pardoning Citizens with Criminal Records
April 22, 2013
We often discuss the challenges of ex-felons going back to work and the problems they face when making this transition. From issues like ban the box to a company’s compliance in their use of criminal records in hiring decisions, there’s a never ending list of challenges that arise. One of these topics includes expunging criminal records, so that even if an employer conducts a background check, an applicant’s criminal record will not be found.
In Canada, a job candidate could simply submit an application and if accepted, their criminal record will be suspended. This action may allow those with a criminal history to find a job more quickly and will assist in making the hiring process much smoother. In Canada, they recently implemented legislation (in March of 2012) for this practice of record suspension, allowing ex-offenders a pardon for past crimes. According to Chris Heringer, a senior executive with Pardon Applications of Canada, a nationwide application firm, this is a great opportunity, particularly for those seeking employment:
“Employment seems to be one of the foremost reasons individuals decide to take this step…and it’s not just concern over finding a new job. Even those who are currently employed want to make sure their record does not come to light when opportunities for advancement are presented.”
For job candidates that made mistakes in the past and are ready to live a better lifestyle, this is a second chance. Without having to explain their past, the job search becomes hopeful as any previous record will no longer be available, even if a background check is done. According to the article, this pardon can also help “an individual’s ability to volunteer, further education, adopt a child, or even rent an apartment.”
However, there is a negative aspect to consider, which is that if an applicant appears to have turned their life around and has a criminal record pardoned, what if they revert to their previous lifestyle at some point? In Canada, if this does happen, the pardon will be revoked. The Parole Board of Canada stated that of 450,000 Canadians who have been pardoned, 96% have remained in the workforce.
Of course in the United States, those with criminal records can request their records to be sealed, or expunged, like this program. While a separate issue from sealing a record, this issue makes me wonder what would happen if all cities and states in the United States eliminated the criminal disclosure question on job applications. Perhaps discriminatory hiring practices and lawsuits would decrease, as well as criminal activity. What are your thoughts?
Read more of this article from Marketwired here.