Criminal Background Checks on the Unemployed?

Around 65 million Americans have an arrest or conviction in their past that is likely to show up during a routine criminal background check

Crime and the Unemployed

We’ve got an employment problem here in the U.S. The economy is still sputtering in spite of the regional stimulus effects, many Americans are still out of work and a large number of them are willing to take just about any gig they can get, so incomes have not even been adjusted to inflationary effects. And then there are those who are being blocked from gainful employment by their real or “imagined” criminal past. You may not think that that is worth writing about but once you realize that one in four adults in America – around 65 million citizens – have an arrest or conviction in their past that is likely to show up during a routine criminal background check, you know that the issue is turning into a problem.

When potential employers dig into that criminal past what they find can end a job search or lose potential workers a gig in one of the hardest job markets in recent memory.
Since the Sept. 11 terror attacks, yes it’s almost 10 years ago, this country has been at war and criminal background checks intended to uncover everything from arrests on dismissed or expunged charges to misdemeanor and felony convictions have become a common part of the job application process in the private sector.
A 2010 survey by Society for Human Resources Management found that 90 percent of its member firms routinely check a job applicants’ background.

There’s a burgeoning criminal background check industry that has signed up everyone from office cleaning and retail merchandise delivery services to pizza delivery companies, with many reportedly using a “Why aren’t you checking backgrounds like your competitors?” pitch to lure new customers.

But, contrary to the popular belief that once a criminal always a criminal, what’s never mentioned is the growing body of evidence suggesting that after as few as three years –- depending on the person’s age and original crime — people released from prison are no more likely than the general population to commit more crime. You see, having been convicted of smoking pot, gets you a record, as does “stealing” a Christmas tree during the season.

But guess what is the major problem of those returning to some form of crime? Yes, a major factor in those prisoners potentially returning to jail is the failure to find legitimate work. Which is why a growing number of nonprofit agencies and corrections departments across the country are trying to help “ex-cons” get jobs.

And now America is asked the big question if it is right that ALL unemployed workers have to undergo criminal background checks?
Be careful how you answer this question, because a conviction for an alleged crime is potentially in everyone’s future, whether it’s traffic related, white collar or just another misdemeanor taking out of proportion.
Of course  I am not talking about heinous, premeditated crimes that result in abuse, armed robberies, murder, kidnapping etc. But if all unemployed need to be background checked, we may need another system of being judged by 12 of your peers, which of course would be employment creation, albeit without any productive value.

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