I’ve recently had a lot of work done in my apartment, strangers in and out, sometimes without my being able to be here. With this experience fresh in my mind, I want to go on record as opposing the latest D.C. latest folly under consideration by the DC government – a shield law for felons:
“The bill would ban employers from looking into an applicant’s criminal background until a job offer has been made. At that point, it would allow them to check the previous 10 years of a criminal record for offenses that have a ‘rational relationship’ to the job. For instance, a person with a record of embezzlement legally could be rejected for a job as a cashier.”
This is all couched in the language of giving a second chance. The ex-cons themselves make insufficiently veiled threats to return to a life of crime:
“Wilder said [a jobs program] helped him, too. At 46, it was the first real job he’d had. In 10 months, initially earning $7.50 an hour and rising at 5 a.m. to collect trash, he has his own apartment, has opened a checking account and has saved a little money.
“‘I never had a bank account or my own place with my name on the lease,” he said. “You feel better about yourself. You’re motivated.’
“But his status is tenuous. His time in the program has run out, and he’s looking for a job. ‘It would be easy to go back to the streets,’ he said. ‘I don’t want to do that.'”
I don’t want him to do it either [“go back to the streets” appears to be a euphemism for selling drugs]. But I also don’t want somebody threatening to re-embark on a life of crime plastering my apartment.
People often do get second chances. I know a family down south which employed a convicted murderer. Nicest guy you’d ever want to meet. But the family hired him with full knowledge of what he’d done. Felons are people who’ve made a mistake, and, to recover from the mistake, they will need the compassion of somebody like the lady I mentioned who offered a murderer a second chance.
I want people to have a second chance. I don’t want somebody who is on the verge of returning to drug dealing to have Aunt Fanny’s engagement ring.
P.S. Ex-offender Marion Berry is an enthusiastic supporter of the shield.