Those With Criminal Records Struggle to Find Work

Nick Fishman

I just read another article detailing the trouble ex-convicts are having finding work due to their criminal records.  And make no mistake, this is a serious problem.  However, it’s a problem that is difficult to fix.  Employers have every right to be concerned about the potential risks of hiring those with adverse information found on their employment background checks.  Likewise, our states have every right to be concerned about criminal recidivism due to the inability to make on honest living.

Over the last several years, we’ve heard many a politician and advocacy group clamor for the abolishment of background checks and, or curbs on their use.  We’ve seen employers being sued for not hiring those with criminal records.  But let’s look at this from another angle.  There are exponentially more people without criminal records looking for work than those with them.  Would it be fair to those who have not run afoul of the law to compete on a level playing field against those that have?  One can hardly argue that if all else is equal, that the person without the criminal record is a safer bet.  Taking away this factor from an employer’s consideration would be like saying that you cannot favor a candidate with a college degree over someone without one.   You can’t just heap this on the private sector and tell them to ignore this information.

I agree that this is a serious issue, but if the states and federal government are so concerned about this, they ought to take a look at their own hiring practices.  Are they actively hiring those with criminal records?

It’s A Bad Time For Job Seekers With Criminal Records- LA Times

Eddie Lemon has an associate’s degree from Taft College near Bakersfield. He’s certified to work as a sheet metal operator and to drive a forklift. He has experience as a dishwasher and a cabinetmaker.

He also has a criminal record.

The 47-year-old Lemon believes that has made it all but impossible for him to find a job in one of the worst economies in decades. And as prisons are forced to reduce their inmate populations because of overcrowding and budget shortages, some economists fear that could lead many of them back to a life of crime.

“In a bad economy, there are fewer jobs, and when people don’t have jobs, they’re more likely to commit another crime and get sent back to prison,” said John Schmitt, a senior economist at the Center for Economic and Policy Research, a Washington think tank.

It’s never been easy to get a job after getting out of prison. Most employers are hesitant to hire ex-offenders. They typically have limited education and spotty work experience, and they may have seen their skills atrophy during their time in lockup.

But what’s different now, experts say, are two trends that have dimmed employment prospects even more.

One is a severe contraction in industries such as manufacturing and construction that have traditionally been more open to hiring people with checkered pasts. The other is a rise in the number of former inmates looking for work, as state prisons and county jails try to reduce their inmate populations to save money.

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Nick Fishman
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Nick Fishman

Nick Fishman is the co-founder of EmployeeScreenIQ, a leading, global employment background screening provider, and serves as the company’s executive vice president and chief marketing officer. He pioneered the creation of EmployeeScreen University, the #1 educational resource on employment background checks for human resources, security and risk management professionals. A recognized industry expert, Nick is a frequent author, presenter and contributor to the news media. Nick is also a licensed private investigator in the states of Ohio and Texas.
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