While the Times author points to a historically low rate of unemployment and cites business conditions in Dane County, WI, this willingness to hire men and women with records does not generally exist with large, national employers. Nearly all of them have internal criteria relating to who they will or will not hire, based upon the nature of the crime(s) an applicant has committed and when it occurred. Most require at least five or six years to pass before they'd consider hiring someone guilty of a felony.
And therein lies the rub: there's nearly an 80% chance that someone released from jail or prison will be re-arrested within five years of their release. The vast majority of them will be unemployed at time of re-arrest. Contrariwise, there's very little chance of someone who has found employment being re-arrested. Employment is truly the silver bullet that short circuits this pernicious cycle of recidivism.
Recent studies have shown that those with records often emerge as an employer's best hires. Unlike others, people with records have no sense of entitlement and truly appreciate the opportunity they've been afforded. Typically, they reward employers with great loyalty, which translates to much greater retention (the true bane of HR professionals).
While attitudes are changing for the better (I, as a formerly incarcerated person, have noticed this in my own life), there still exists a great negative bias towards those with records, the NY Times notwithstanding. Racism figures mightily in this equation. But we're a country that elected a racist President, whose Atty General is eager to reinstate ineffective drug laws (including marijuana) that destroyed lives, families and communities in the 80's 90's and even today.
Anyone with a record can attest to the stigma that doesn't leave after doing one's time. In fact, for most, it's a life sentence, a sentence that even low unemployment can't expunge.
This is correct. I have a criminal record (though hopefully after probation it gets deleted - deferred adjucation) and lucky enough to have a well paying tech job because my company did not do a background check. However, you never know when you may be fired, have to leave, or the company may fail. I always worry ahead of time when I might need another job and be unable to find an engineering job that doesn't background check me.
One time I accepted an offer after many interviews and worked at a place for two weeks - enough time for someone to settle down and feel like they are back to a normal life, and bang - background check, and I was out the next day.
I am also in a support group with people with the same crime as me and those who were no as fortunate to be college educated suffer from unstable and low paying employment. Those are college educated are not much better off because the jobs that they know how to do and pay decently are behind background checks.
It is very frustrating to know that you might not get a job not because of your skills, interview prep, or personality, but because of something you did years ago. I get it that not all of us are good guys or have learned our lesson, but everyone should be able to feed themselves and their families.
>This is correct. I have a criminal record (though hopefully after probation it gets deleted - deferred adjucation)
I can't emphasize enough how important it getting "deleted" can be for your future earning potential. You should of course expect to encounter situations where you'll need disclose and explain the situation in your future, regardless of the adjudication, as it certainly is a part of your history/ life story.
However, by not having the conviction show up on a standard background check, you can also expect to avoid those situations where:
>and bang - background check, and I was out the next day.
By controlling the disclosure, you can ensure the opportunity to offer further explaination.
IME, Humans tend to be much more understanding, flexible, reasonable and compassionate toward this topic in face to face situations. Also, just the simple act of admitting and reflecting on past mistakes can help to humanize you as a candidate, and lead to developing more personal relationships than you otherwise would have.
Because he didn't want his chances of getting hired drop in 1/10th what they were...
>but if I Google somebody or something comes up in a background check that's going to do more damage than if they'd just been up-front about it.
Well, then that's the same attitude as the one that doesn't give them the job in the first place. What business is of yours, their employee, if they did jail time in their past, as long as they are good at their job? Why should they volunteer that information to you, not only since giving it such kills their chances in lots of other employees, but in principle too?
In the US, nearly every job I've had (not even sensitive jobs, just plain old programming gigs) has done a background check. They even go as far as verifying attendance dates at my University, etc.
Being good at something does not automatically make you a trustworthy person just as having been convicted of something in the past doesn't automatically make you untrustworthy.
However, failing to disclose that you've been convicted of a crime that may be perceived as a possible red-flag or risk for a job you're interviewing for does, in my opinion demonstrate a lack of trustworthiness.
Note that I'm not saying the parent poster is untrustworthy. For all I know the crime he'd been convicted of had absolutely no relation to his job and he was young and perhaps not as wise at that point. I'm speaking only about my own views when interviewing and hiring technical people.
Because lying on your application about past crimes will 100% get you fired but being upfront about it leaves a different impression?
If they ask you and you don't tell, it is a lie.
Imagine in a first date if you should say: I snore, every Wednesday I play soccer with my friends and arrive home somewhat drunk, and my family is full of assholes.
a) I didn't know as I was 22 and this was my first time getting a job after everything happened, so I was ignorant of the process. The subject never came up during interviews or offer signing.
b) NYC has laws/rules (?) that don't let employers ask about criminal records before giving an offer. To me these laws are useless as I'd rather be rejected up front than accept an offer and then have to leave...
Anyway, the company was a CRM start up and their excuse was that their investors wanted everyone in the company to be clean because we handle customer data or whatever, so I doubt I would've gotten the job even if I had been up front. But, I love where I work now so it's all good.
Well that depends on your definition of "minor crimes" and you have no idea what the person you are responding to has been convicted of a "minor crime"
Further most companies do, even if unstated, discriminate based on criminal history.
>if I Google somebody
You should really stop that... You should not base hiring or any other choices off a google search, you are not getting accurate data.
> or something comes up in a background check that's going to do more damage than if they'd just been up-front about it.
That depends. Losing the job is all you are empowered to do thus it seems to me it is the same amount of damage
Yet truly belonging to a community is among the most fundamental of human needs, social beings that we are. And here's the rub: once speared, aboriginal offenders had paid for their crime, and were still fully part of their tribe, with all the requisite privileges and obligations. There were other technical mitigations of the apparent severity of the punishment (eg. the spear head used was specifically designed for the purpose, smooth and covered with antibiotic agents to reduce damage & infection), but more crucially: the punishment was executed within a context that said: "you'll pay for your crime, and it will be a painful price, but you're still one of us".
Employment, for better or worse, is a lynchpin fetish of our current social arrangements, central to full community membership. Denying it is tantamount to community expulsion: a truly savage punishment.
It's just people not wanting to associate with others who are more likely in the future to commit dangerous or destructive acts, because they fear being victimized. They rightly believe that if this person committed such an act in the past, they're more likely to do so in the future, as compared to someone with no such record.
If you pretend the motivation is to punish the other, instead of to avoid being victimized, you'll never be able to understand this behavior and thus will never be able to change it or adapt to it.
If you're a US felon trying to make a life, thinking of employers' motivation as being to punish you would be inaccurate and probably counter-productive. I don't quite agree with your characterisation of employers' motivation (I think corporate management is as uninformed, irrational, and prone to post-hoc rationalising of unthinking reflexive behaviour as is any other sector of society), but that's a side issue here. If you have a criminal history, and want to get back on track, you have to deal with potential employers as you find them.
If you're instead concerned about policy & intent on analysing the system as a whole, employers' reluctance to hire is absolutely part of the criminal disciplinary system, interacting with many other parts (eg. cultural attitudes towards criminality, levels of legally required disclosure of criminal history, legal classification of crimes, etc, etc). In a society (for example) without permanent public records of criminal convictions, or where they are rapidly expunged, and with no duty to disclose criminal history, ex-cons de facto receive less punishment. Whether the more or less punitive system offers the best balance of goods for society is a topic for debate, but that employer reluctance to hire acts as part of the punishment system is just a fact, regardless of employer motivation.
Still totally understandable from an employer's point of view. e.g. How much of a discount would you need to hire a nanny previously convicted or domestic abuse?
But, it still functions as a de-facto punishment. But the rationality of it is what makes it difficult to address, without taking away the freedom of free people.
Perhaps a solution would be to make judges explicitly state that part of the punishment is to have a really hard time finding work, to make them acknowledge what's being done. Then, if the judge doesn't wish to make this part of the punishment, he can order that the criminal's future employers be subsidized, or that the record be hidden.
The thing is, these are political non-starters. Even if the overall result is better, we know what'd happen the first time a felon with a hidden record or whose paycheck is government subsidized does something awful on the job. And that will happen, fast.
Former criminals are far more likely to commit crimes than random citizens. So it's rational to discriminate against people with records. This fact has to get acknowledged, and my sense is that a lot of people don't want to because it makes the problem seem really hard to solve.
Overall, given that employers should have the right to choose their employees with knowledge intact (see: nanny example), but criminals shouldn't be receiving life-long extrajudicial punishments, I think subsidizing their wages to some degree, if they find work, seems like a good policy option. I wonder if it's ever been tried.
What I'd like to see is how that number changes if you only look at those in stable employment.
One reason I'm wondering about that is that the re-offending rate in the US is really horrific compared to places like Norway for example. But it's not clear if that is because of the particularly brutal US prisons, or because of ability to run background checks (there are strict legal limitations on who can request background checks and for what roles, and what can be revealed, in Norway), or something else.
In Australia, for a first offence of a not-particularly serious nature, it is possible to ask for "no conviction", at the magistrates discretion, even when found guilty, especially if a conviction would effect your chances of future employment or study options. This doesn't apply to sexual offences, and typically wouldn't apply to anything that goes further than the magistrates courts.
The rightly in your comment irks me. Isn't it a self-fulfilling prophecy? One's potential criminal behavior tends to depend, at least partly, on environment, and socio-economic factors. It makes sense that anyone facing difficulties in finding jobs, for things they supposedly have paid for, are indeed more likely to recidivate. It's a vicious circle.
There's prison time for building code violations?
In the ideal case, if the suspect is actually guilty, they save the prosecutors office time and money in actually preparing the case for trial, and the defendant gets a lesser punishment and doesn't spend their money on a trial defense either.
In the less ideal case, say if the suspect is actually innocent but is not believed or can't prove it easily, the suspects are put in a tough position - plead guilty to something they didn't do, or a long and expensive trial with uncertain outcome. It gets particularly dubious when the prosecutors try to tilt the scales towards the plea side by threatening to go for the max punishment on the most serious crime they could possibly charge if the suspect chooses a trial. It sounds like this could be a case where this threat was carried out and the prosecutor is going for a knowingly over the top punishment to punish them for daring to not take a guilty plea.
Progressive states and cities like to have lots a laws about little things like building code vehicle inspections, how you're allowed to store trash, etc, etc that make it a NicePlaceToLive(TM). They attach $50-$500 fines to violations of these small laws. Obviously there's additional compounding fines for nonpayment.
Something like an unpaid parking ticket that got sent to your old address can easily turn into jail time if when you're arrested out of the blue (for having a few grand in unpaid fines) and can't write a check or hire a lawyer to solve the problem then and there.
Basically laws are passed with good intentions and the negative externalities and edge cases do not affect the ruling class so they never get changed.
So yes, violate building code on your own property and don't address the situation the first time they bother you about it and you could very well wind up in prison.
Going to call BS on that one. Zoning code violations are not felonies in any state in the U.S. The punishment for a zoning code violation is a fine or a court order to remove/rebuild the offending structure.
People can go towards atheism these days (and strangely few do for such a modern western country), but a cultural bias (that those people that ended in jail are somehow inherently bad and must be punished in life) is less easy to shake off -- even when the original cultural leaders of the country (WASPs) have been superseded by a much more diverse population.
(Part of the Politically Correct movement have that protestant dynamic in play too, as does the obsession with "evil", and this or that thing or person being it).
America was settled by a lot more than just puritans. There were also notably cavaliers, quakers, and borderers. That and a bunch of other groups that came later.
They definitely had an influence but you're going to need to make a better, less lazy argument than this. It's like invoking the Prussians to explain something about Europe you don't like.
Yes, but they won the cultural influence, not quakers.
>They definitely had an influence but you're going to need to make a better, less lazy argument than this.
General arguments don't go into the nuances, but that doesn't mean they're not good as models. In so much as someone believes in the role of ideas, ideology and religion in history and the development of a society, some connections are quite inevitable to make.
>It's like invoking the Prussians to explain something about Europe you don't like.
Lots of things about Europe one like's or doesn't like can be explained by historical circumstance, including things that happened way before the Prussian state. Tons of France's secular stance, for example, customs and institutions hark back from the era of the French Revolution.
Have you watched the documentary "13th"? If so I'd be curious to hear what explains the delta in your opinion.
If not, I can recommend it.
[Edit to clarify] For the sake of folk who haven't watched it, my rough TL;DR would be that it paints an apparently clear continuum from slavery to mass incarceration based on the 13th amendment's allowance of "involuntary servitude" for convicts.
It could be that, or a 1000 other things. Not one debate about historical causality has ever been settled in web comments.
However, in a society primarily organised around inculcating greed (brought about by another set of complex historical causes), I'd propose highly-profitable privatised incarceration as an a priori plausible candidate for a causal factor.
I see no proof of this claim.
Some would call me a Protestant Christian. Jesus teaches rehabilitation, mercy, and love even for enemies. Prisons are not "scriptural" or even mentioned under Protestant and Catholic teaching.
Israel had dozens of "Cities of Refuge" in the Old Testament where people who had accentually done something wrong (like killed) someone could run and be protected by the city leaders.
God never commanded prisons or even jails anywhere in the Torah or New Testament.
Societal claims are not math to draw complete proofs, and human culture is not molecules and physical particles to do experiments on. Nor are such things absolute like laws of nature. Still, one can trace historical developments, watch the timeline and lineage of ideas, track influences and draw some conclusions. And this is a fairly common conclusion of people who have studied such things, not to mention, certain traits are common across certain cultures (protestant cultures vs catholic cultures or muslim cultures, or buddhist cultures, and so on).
>Some would call me a Protestant Christian. Jesus teaches rehabilitation, mercy, and love even for enemies.
What Christ taught originally is not really relevant here though, how people in this or that era or this or that culture interpreted those teachings matters.
Marx also calls for peace, equality, rule of the common workers and such, but in the real play of events it didn't went down like this. History is full of similar changes of ideas in action. References to Jesus and the Gospels aside, WASP protestants have always been (in the majority -- there are of course exceptions) more Old Testament in their ways than New Testament.
Of course travel in those days, especially fleeing for your life, was hardly easy. Complicating matters for the killer, was the Go’El Haddam, “The Redeemer of Blood” who’s duty it was to kill you unless you were in a city of refuge.
Mind you, indefinite banishment would have been a slow death sentence for the average Sumerian or Cannanite Joe. Being cut off from friends, family, community and the ability to travel beyond the city is rough, but as you say, not jail. Remember though, that all of this is discussion of a form of religiously mandated execution.
Curse your parents? Dead.
Break the sabbath? Dead.
Plant the wrong crops? Dead.
Prisons came about because socieites started to offer something other than the need to flee, or die. Initially prisons were just pee-trial holding areas, but as more people lived together, that changed. As the expectation of s fair trial spread, jails which could safely hold people for more than the few days between their apprehension and execution became necessary.
Anyone who by violence causes a death must be put to death. If, however, he has not planned to do it but it comes from God by his hand, he can take refuge in a place which I shall appoint for you. But should any person dare to kill another with deliberate planning, you will take that person even from my altar to be put to death.. Exodus 21:12-13
Then as you say, there is the religious/cultural dimension.
Edit: I’m just describing the realpolitik, not endorsing it.
Is this shown with a pseudo randomized trial or just correlation? Because I could easily see lots of attributes that make someone more hirable would also be associated with reduced recidivism rates (college degree, strong support structure, low impulsivity, high conscientiousness)
I'm an atheist but Father Greg is one of my greatest heroes. I highly recommend his recent interview on Fresh Air.
My wife is on the board of a refugee-supporting NPO. The present climate has funded them well, but the winds could change. Personally, I hope they could spawn a B-corp type entity during this season of plenty to develop sustainable funding.
In a similar fashion, the Clarkston, GA refugee community has had comparative success because there is a network of ready, undesirable jobs processing chickens. There is also an established network of shuttle companies for transportation. While the cliche of the refugee doctor or engineer working in a chicken plant is very real, stable work is huge for getting these families started in the US.
P.S. I have a brother in law now working past a decade of addiction and related tomfoolery. I'll definitely send your company to him.
Offtopic: thanks for attacking this problem. There are few people willing to attack important problems like this.
That’s insane, plenty of people who didn’t just get out of prison can’t get a full time job.
I love your initiative by the way, if there is any way that I can help promote it please let me know.
e.g. DWI in Canada is considered much more serious than in the US. One of my friends pleaded no contest to another misdemeanor charge to escape the scrutiny that would come with having to deal with DWI on record by arguing that he would have difficulty in traveling to Canada.
I always found it difficult to get hired by such firms without prior experience. And that experience only comes from small local employers. Work small and locally and then get hired by the bigger firms to have a better chance at employment.
Bug firms are just "too efficient" and don't really have time/resource to give chances. And take risks. Among the plethora of ridiculousness they use in hiring and firing, I cannot consciously give 2 cents about what they think.
So I'd rather skip them and jump to the more "personal" employers. Let them come and beg for me if they need to.
I do notice that, among younger people, getting arrested for something is almost a matter of course. A fact of life. That is the real problem in my opinion.
Citations, please? That is a highly counterintuitive result.
Again, I'm sure there's a profile of the reformed convict who's learned to value every breath of life of freedom with appreciation and gratitude. I'm just not convinced this is the norm to the extent that they'd typically outstrip employees who did not go through the system.
That's why it's counterintuitive to me. Now I'm ready to say I've been all wrong about this. But I want to see data.
Lyndon B. Johnson?
He was many things, but I don’t think racist was one of them. He was mentored politically by southern racists, but betrayed them epically, indirectly creating the modern GOP in the process.
So... if I work for a company who uses ADP for payroll, ADP is tracking if/when I change jobs and how much my salary is over time?
I wonder what else they're doing with my private information.
The thing with 16 charges of anything is that you know there's going to be a 17th, an 18th... and so on.
Some people can be rehabilitated, some people can't. Severity of the crime isn't necessarily indicative of that.
The main value of U-3 isn't that it's a particularly insightful reflection on job health, but rather that it's easy to measure, its definition is consistent, and captures a particular subset of the population that has demonstrated overt desire to participate in government programs that ostensibly help them on the path towards employment. This self-selects for workers exceeding a particular desperation ratio, while not counting people who may think that they'd prefer to work, but haven't taken a government-defined sequence of steps towards doing so.
Seasonally-adjusted U-3 is low right now, around 4.1%, so in macro terms the pool of people who have taken overt steps towards getting a job while still not having a job is shrinking. This means there's fewer candidates for a particular position, and on average, less of a chance that any particular candidate is qualified for any particular position. You could argue that this means there's a labor shortage.
 https://www.bls.gov/cps/cps_htgm.htm  https://www.bls.gov/news.release/empsit.t15.htm
I knew a guy a few years ago, when things were more lax, who lived in Bisbee, Atizona and he said that since it was right next to the border and their was a big border patrol station there that there weren't ay illegal immigrants around, so if he wanted cheap construction help he had to hire ex-cons.
As opposed to those who broke the law and haven't been caught yet. (Different laws, granted.)
Hitting that is one way of measuring whether there is a labor shortage. At the moment it does happen to coincide with wage growth (which should be higher when it is more difficult to hire people).
Note that the article also doesn't contain the word "immigration". It deserves to be noted that the jobs being discussed here have a huge overlap with the jobs often filled by unskilled immigrants. Whatever your views on ex-cons and low-skill foreigners, I think it's important to understand that there is a trade-off between them.
Try finding a master plumber or electrician. Or a mid level IT person. They don’t exist.
Companies run so lean there’s no pipeline of internal candidates either. Where I work, it’s impossible to hire competent managers with technical skills. The normal places you’d look are full of young/inexperienced and old/stagnant.
Anyway. They've got good pay and good power in their positions. They rarely change jobs, you won't see them much in the job market.
Or a mid level IT person. They don’t exist.
My knee jerk reaction is to say "I absolutely refuse to believe this is true", but I will concede that the problem (here, I am defining problem not as a shortage of qualified talent, but a shortage of qualified talent that actually progresses to getting hired) exists because of symptoms you correctly highlighted "pipelines" and "competent managers". I will admit-however-to being biased as someone who's worked in IT for decades and later became a technical recruiter with an agency who wanted someone on staff that could have conversations with tech professionals on a meaningful, personal level.
Unrealistic or otherwise unsustainable hiring manager expectations and offensive constraints on salary compared with demanded skills seem to have created artificial scarcities of talent in IT hiring (pipeline). Candidates are expected to come in the door having every bullet point in a 120 bullet point job ad satisfied as to core-competencies, and when hired, they're given a workstation and sent off to the grind with just enough training and grooming to know the name of the product and the ability to rattle off a list of libraries and frameworks used. Skill gaps get resumes thrown out, even if it's some middling gap that with time and support from senior techs can be rapidly closed with a dose of on the job training. Something that seems as extinct as the pterodactyl nowadays.
Heck, just last week I had a talk with a recruiter who was looking for a DevOps Engineer (not strictly IT in the traditional sense of the phrase, but I bring this up to highlight my point) and we joked about one job spec that was looking for a senior level expert with five years experience in Kubernetes (competent managers). Let that one soak in. The hiring manager demanded a five year expert in Kubernetes, which hasn't been around for a full three.
My recruiter friend told me they dropped this client after a few more job specs like this because they couldn't get a single candidate past a pre-screening due to hiring manager expecting the world-and they were preparing to do the same to a few other clients for the same reason. I asked if she were worried about what this would do to their billings "No, because we have other clients who pay us more, but have much more manageable expectations on job candidates."
I wish this were the exception versus the norm but if I have to hear one more time that there aren't qualified IT people I will probably rip what's left of my greying hair right out of my head because if this is true, it's not the fault of IT personnel, it's the fault of everyone involved in the hiring process refusing to manage their own darn expectations.
This is the entirety of it right here. There's only a shortage when your pay is below market.
There was also the issue with salary. You won't find any senior DevOps with a clue because anyone who can ssh to a server moved to contracting and is paid double what your perm job is offering.
That said, we should introduce some job training for these folks since their skulls are likely severely out of date.
> The robots were coming in not to replace humans, and not just as a way to modernize, but also because reliable humans had become so hard to find. It was part of a labor shortage spreading across America, one that economists said is stemming from so many things at once. A low unemployment rate. The retirement of baby boomers. A younger generation that doesn’t want factory jobs. And, more and more, a workforce in declining health: because of alcohol, because of despair and depression, because of a spike in the use of opioids and other drugs.
> Companies now could pick between two versions of the American worker — humans and robots. And at Tenere Inc., where 132 jobs were unfilled on the week the robots arrived, the balance was beginning to shift.
> After an hour the workers were heading back to their cars, one saying that everything “sounds okay,” another saying the “pay sucks.” Bader guessed that two of the four “wouldn’t last a week,” because often, he said, he knew within minutes who would last. People who said they couldn’t work Saturdays. People who couldn’t work early mornings. This was the mystery for him: So many people showing up, saying they were worried about rent or bills or supporting children, and yet they couldn’t hold down a job that could help them.
This extends to farms (who often prefer immigrants because they're ok with working with large animals). For a bit on the labor storage in Wisconsin: http://host.madison.com/wsj/business/wisconsin-businesses-gr...
On the other hand, you've got an ex-convict. Many of them are people who have messed up somewhere in the past and don't want to go back.
I am in Wisconsin (and work in the public sector), so this is something I'm a bit more familiar with than other states... and also happens to be the subject of the article... http://buybsi.com/images/PDF/MapofIndustries.pdf - note that three of the facilities are teaching farm skills.
Tying the two articles together - the work release are people that you're sure are going to show up and are going to be drug free. They're not going to stop at the bar on the way home and come into work the next day with a massive hangover.
And when they get out... they are often good workers. https://www.npr.org/2016/04/22/475228335/do-felons-make-good... ... and there's something for the employer too - a tax credit. https://dwd.wisconsin.gov/jobservice/taxcredit/wotc.htm
I think that's still a very broad category. There's situations that could lead to violent acts but wouldn't mean that person was a risk in the workplace. We all know people who've been in fights and sheer bad luck can turn a brawl into homocide. (a "lucky" punch, an "unlucky" fall leading to a head injury).
Personally I've never been in a fight other than the playground shoving kind - and violence seriously freaks me out. But I know that people I know and trust could have easily crossed that line if chance had have played them a different hand.
Just check it out below!
One finds things like:
> Ineligible for employment with municipal fire department (mandatory for felonies/crimes involving moral turpitude)
> Any felony; Crime of moral turpitude; Crimes involving fraud, dishonesty, misrepresentation or money-laundering
> Ineligible for employment in the police or fire department (second/third/fourth class cities)
> Any felony; Any misdemeanor
Is that a reasonable restriction?
I am of the understanding that these restrictions are in place so that others can't can't compromise the integrity of one working in that office. Having gambling debts is something that allows people to blackmail or otherwise influence a person.
Looking through that, are there any that are particularly "why is this even there?" that you can point out that fall in the mandatory/automatic for consequence type?
Not saying all complaints are unfounded, but it's far from politically incorrect in many groups.