Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Hiring Felons

Boston, Chicago and San Francisco set a welcome example earlier in the decade when they abandoned counterproductive policies that often barred former offenders from municipal jobs, no matter how minor their crime nor how distant in the past. Connecticut, New Mexico and Minnesota have recently passed laws protecting the employment rights of former offenders. Other states should quickly follow.


With 2.3 million people in prison and over 5 million convicted felons on probation and parole, the reality of the system of mass incarceration is becoming more apparent. Do we continue to feed people into the prison system or do we try to break the cycle? It seems the rational thing to do is to have polices like this one that assist felons in getting jobs instead of relegating them to the growing underclass or undercaste, to use Michelle Alexander's phrase.

We can decide to spend more money on prisons and ensure more failures and victims, or we can enact policies that help felons become participants in society.

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