Norwich, CT Gives Convicts a Chance

Wednesday, October 8, 2008

City Council members of Norwich, Connecticut are hearing from advocates wanting change in the application process for city employees. The group: Think Outside the Box, advocates delaying a criminal background check until the applicants qualifications have been determined. They want ex-criminals to have a fair judgement of their skills before having to check the box that states they have been convicted of a crime.

Employment is one of the the biggest limitations facing convicted criminals after they are released from prison. The advocates stress that it is not about trying to put sex offenders where they don't belong, but about trying to help people get back on their feet after being released from their punishment. Cities in New England are considering the change, and Boston has begun implementation of the new policy.

Once the applicant passes through the job qualification procedure, they will have to admit to their crimes, and are expected to speak frankly on the matter. It will be up to the hiring manager to make the final decision and they are granted full prudence on the decision-making process.

The procedure change is good, in a way, because criminals who have served their time are considered to be "rehabilitated." However, most people arrested for criminal offenses have prior arrest records and records in more than one state. (Federal Bureau of Investigation). Taking a chance on criminals by providing them a job might give them enough reason to stay off the streets and out of the life of crime. The fall-out from this program could be impressive, or it could work. I know I'll be waiting to see how it pans out.


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