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Dutchess_III's avatar

Would you hire a convicted felon?

Asked by Dutchess_III (28265 points ) March 15th, 2012

Local headline has an article where one of our judges is encouraging local businesses to hire felons. He said, “We aren’t asking you to give them a hand out, just a chance.”

We can assume he isn’t referring to people who are in for violent crimes.

I would have unequivocally said “No!” before my job turned into working with those “convicted felons” day after day (none of my students have been convicted of a violent crime.) Now I have to say that I absolutely would hire many of them.

What is your first reaction?

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36 Answers

john65pennington's avatar

Negative. If past history is an example, the other employees would rather quit than work with an ex-convict. It’s a safety situation with family.

Symbeline's avatar

I might. Say I own a mall and need some security guards. I could hire someone with a criminal background that includes thieving, B&A and all. A thief once themselves, they would have much more experience in spotting out thieves, recognizing their tics and behaviors and all. (that is, if thieving can be identified under a definite spectrum) I’m not saying a trained security guard is useless; absolutely not. But someone who really knows the thing and have done it themselves may very well have a bit of an upper hand.

Of course I’d have to deal with the possibility that some of them aren’t really wanting a second chance…and that’s a chance I’d have to take. Really depends on the crime and the reasons behind a crime though…convicted felons that suffer from a mental disorder or are simply not able to adapt to social standards might not be a good idea at all.

That would be messed up though…a felon looking for a job, and having to write down his or her ’‘specialties’’ on the resume…Thieving, murder, fraud…lol.

chyna's avatar

I think of the Elizabeth Smart case in which her dad hired a convict. No. I don’t think I would.

Blackberry's avatar

I can’t think of any reason not to, besides a fear based generalization of every felon, which would be wrong for various reasons. I would much rather treat someone like a human initially then judge them by their actions…..

Bellatrix's avatar

It depends on the job I want them to do and what they were convicted of and when. People deserve to be given a second chance when they have served their time. I wouldn’t be ridiculous though. I wouldn’t have a convicted paedophile babysit my children. However, a person who was convicted of theft while in the throes of drug addiction and is now clean and trying to start a new life deserves that chance and I would be happy to give them a job. Totally depends on the circumstances.

Dutchess_III's avatar

@Blackberry Very well said. Thank you. With some of my guys…all they’d need is a chance.
Thank you @Bellatrix.

The damn media just has a heyday with stereotyping these guys.

wundayatta's avatar

Depends on whether I had work they were qualified for. But that’s a copout because mostly they would not be qualified to do the work.

My trust for someone depends on a lot of factors. Hopefully I could trust a felon to be able to do the work. I’d hate to have to watch them like a hawk. We’d just have to see. But if there were any competition for the job, it’s hard to imagine the felon would get hired all else being even. That’s sad, but I’m just not sure I’m the person to take the chance.

Dutchess_III's avatar

Why would you assume that “mostly they would not be qualified to do the work” @wundayatta?

WillWorkForChocolate's avatar

It would have to depend on what their crime was.

Dutchess_III's avatar

:). Two of the students who have passed through my room are convicted felons for….marijuana possession.

talljasperman's avatar

My first response is that I would hire them…When someone qualified is overlooked for a bad reason then that means you can get better quality pool of employees.

Dutchess_III's avatar

Well, I wouldn’t recommend hiring them sight unseen @talljasperman. There have been a couple I wouldn’t touch with a 20 ft pole on the outside…but that’s mostly due to mental issues.

talljasperman's avatar

@Dutchess_III I would hire those falsely labeled with mental issues…which is most to all of those diagnosed with mental issues. Bigger pool of employees for me. @all Side note: I am not looking for anyone at this time.

Dutchess_III's avatar

OK, @talljasperman. That is the second stereotypical fallacy on this thread. Where do you get the idea that “most to all” of them have “mental” issues? Perhaps you could give us your definition of “mental issues?”

talljasperman's avatar

@Dutchess_III Not the felons… all the people everywhere diagnosed with mental issues.

Dutchess_III's avatar

Oh, Ok @talljasperman. Glad I edited! I was getting my back up! And therefore…LOL! I got your joke! Can I please PLEASE have a job?? :)

wundayatta's avatar

Because, @Dutchess_III, it seems unlikely that a convicted felon would be a Doctoral candidate, in the fourth year of their program. Those are the only people who have the qualifications for the work. It’s not just most felons, but most people who couldn’t do the work. Still, I think it likely that there are fewer doctoral candidates among felons than among the general population. But I’d be fascinated to hear why you think differently.

talljasperman's avatar

@wundayatta I would prefer to hire those who have the qualifications and not limit my hiring to those who are doctoral candidates.

Dutchess_III's avatar

So @wundayatta…if you had a business, it would be the kind of business that would only need / hire people with PhD’s? Wow. Helluva business. Would you be located in the Silicon Valley perhaps? The head of HR for NASA maybe?

talljasperman's avatar

@Dutchess_III All I can offer anyone is unpaid internship at this time with no guarantee of paid employment in the future but If you want I’m sure….

Simone_De_Beauvoir's avatar

Yes, I would.

Dutchess_III's avatar

But damn @talljasperman. I’ll probably never have my Doctorate… I think I’m stuck with my BS in Education. But I guess I’ll take the job. Because I have mental issues. Delusions of Grandeur is the official term. Although I DID graduate Magna Cum Laude. So all of that makes me qualified for the position you offer :)

Bellatrix's avatar

What about if you need someone to mow your lawn, clean your house, fix your car, or paint your lounge room, or build a veggie garden? When I answered this question I was thinking in terms of a whole range of jobs I might employ someone to do. Not just in a role in the organisation I work in. Although, there are jobs maintaining the yards, delivering mail, doing handyman jobs etc. etc. there too.

I think often people just want a job, any job. I suspect many would not be too choosy in terms of getting a job doing what they might have been qualified before they were imprisoned. They just want a chance to earn money and start living again.

Dutchess_III's avatar

@Bellatrix There is that, but many of my guys are REALLY intelligent. They have so much more than menial jobs that they could excel at…if given the opportunity. Which most of them won’t be. When they get out they’ll go “home.” Where anyone else would go. Back to their family, parents or wife and kids…. And “home” is “the life” that got them into trouble in the first place.

linguaphile's avatar

Three 5mg Oxycodone pills outside of their Rx bottle= 5th degree felony.
Amount of Oxy to get high= at least 20mg.

2 joints of weed= petty misdemeanor.
Amount of weed to get high= 1 joint.

First DUI= misdemeanor
Number of DUIs you have to have before serving any jail time= at least 3

The legal system doesn’t make sense many, many times. The proportion of crimes and punishments don’t line up.

To add to that… legal aid= overworked. Any good legal representation=veryveryVERY expensive.

I would hire a felon, depending on the crime and their subsequent behavior records.

wundayatta's avatar

Those are the qualifications, and when we have open positions, we get tons of people who are interested. For the moment, though, we can’t afford any employees. Like you, @talljasperman, I like to hire people with the qualifications. @Dutchess_III You will find “businesses” like this at every University in the country. Most research labs hire only doctoral candidates, or those who have recently received their doctorate.

Bellatrix's avatar

The reality is I would think @Dutchess_III that certainly in the short term, and possibly the longer term, they aren’t going to get back into a ‘professional’ position for a while. They will need to show they have good work ethic, can be trusted etc. and then (I certainly hope) people in other positions might take them on. I am not disputing their intelligence, but without the right qualifications they won’t get professional jobs and to get a professional job with qualifications, people often want experience.

What sort of roles do you have in mind when you ask this question? What sort of jobs are you think they would apply for?

My initial post still applies. If someone came along who was well qualified for a professional job, I would consider them fairly, regardless of their past.

Dutchess_III's avatar

OK @wundayatta. I understand. You are restricting your thought processes to jobs in your specific line of work, and excluding all others.

@linguaphile no, it really doesn’t. And it’s like, like once you’re in the system you’re like a bug in a spider in a web. You’ve been busted for whatever petty thing, and the next thing you know you get stopped for doing 38 in a 30 and you’re thrown back in jail with another count. You get thrown in jail for petty things that the rest of society pays a tiny price for all the time. And the petty “counts” add up until you’re a felon.

Dutchess_III's avatar

@Bellatrix Here’s the problem. If you spent time in jail, where would you make a beeline for when you got out? You’d go “home.” To your family. To your parents. To your wife and kids. The problem is, “home” is the life that got you into trouble to begin with. Your parents have spent time in prison on drug issues. Your uncles and aunts, brothers and sisters have been in jail. Family reunions could be spent discussing the merits of various jails and various judges. It’s the life they were born in to. But…they have no where else to go. Where do they go to get help and encouragement to get a viable job that requires skills that they CAN learn? And even if there was such a place, it’s a given. You have no job prospects because you’re a convicted felon. So, you can’t get a job, can’t support yourself…so you go “home,” where you’ll have a roof over your head. And you’ll bring in income for the rent and stuff the only way you really know how. Selling.

It’s just heartbreaking to see all the talent in my classroom just….spin around.

Bellatrix's avatar

I get all that but that’s not what you were talking about in the original question and it doesn’t change the fact that as you know, many people don’t want to employ people who have been in gaol. Sad I know but true.

When I suggested there were lots of non-professional jobs people could be given to start to earn money, build trust etc. you said they are very intelligent etc. as if they could do better jobs than this. I don’t disagree that there are undoubtedly many people in prison who are highly intelligent and could do other jobs, or that they haven’t worked in such jobs prior to ending up in prison, but when they come out, they have to get that first start. Wherever that first start ends up being.

I absolutely get what you mean about they need to get out of that original situation and stay away from influences that are likely to lead them back to prison, but in terms of the sorts of jobs available. What do you have in mind?

Dutchess_III's avatar

Well….I’ve been thinking on it. A couple of my guys have come to me and said, “You know, in our counseling they tell us not to go back to our old friends and our old life. Which, I could stay away from old friends, but I don’t know where else to go but home.” They could be perfectly clean, but if the house where they are living (parents, brother, sister, uncle, whomever) gets raided, and something is found that my guy didn’t even know was in there, they are just as guilty as if it was theirs. And they’re back in prison with another count and even MORE years on their sentence.
I wish they had some sort of half-way house where they could stay for 6 months after release, a place that had stringent requirements for being allowed to stay, such as looking for work. I’ve heard of of places like that, but I don’t know of any personally, and non of my guys have ever mentioned such a place as an option. The communities with such a program would have to be willing to take a “chance” on them.

Bellatrix's avatar

We have the same problems here. I can’t speak for the prison system (although I can’t see there being much difference) but I have had connections to detention centres and the story is the same. The kids come out and straight back to where they were and all the problems/people that helped take them to where they ended up.

I have often thought if I would win a lot of money, one of the things I would love to do is buy a couple of houses and use them as halfway houses for kids like that. Breaking the cycle as it were.

linguaphile's avatar

@Dutchess_III Some of the worst criminals I’ve met are the ones who just have not gotten caught yet, and yet, we still hire them easily.

It has to be on a case by case basis for it to make any sense.

Dutchess_III's avatar

@linguaphile excellent point! Oh, quite! The guys in my class are all under 30. I imagine that the older you get without being caught, the cannier you get….

@Bellatrix exactly. But…then there is the problem with the community that the halfway house is located in helping out too, by offering them jobs if they qualify…by just not freaking out over the term “Convicted felon!!!” I’m reading a book now called “My Shadow Ran Fast.” About a guy who did time in San Quentin in the 40’s, but got out and made something of himself. Fascinating. But it also brings up the thought that with the internet and the instant information at our fingertips we tend to find out information about people before we even meet them, and make judgements about them before we even meet them.

jerv's avatar

I work with a few. Not bad guys for the most part; I’ve met far worse people with clean records.

Also, you might be interested in teh story behind Dave’s Killer bread

Dutchess_III's avatar

Oh @jerv Thank you! I’m going to show that to my guys next week! That’s a perfect example of what I’m talking about. He’s not crazy. He’s a regular person who just made bad decisions and he got caught. Like you said, there are some horrible people out there who just haven’t gotten caught.

He had one thing going for him though that most of my guys don’t have…a stable family that he’d turned his back on, but who took him back.

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