No reasonable person would suggest that a sex offender be given a job in an elementary school or day-care center. An ex-offender could not be disqualified for employment unless the offense was directly related to the job. Job seekers would no longer be required to disclose convictions on applications for state, county or municipal jobs. The offenses could still be uncovered in background checks, but they would no longer automatically rule out an applicant from the start.Of course, potential criminals likely are aware of these permanent costs of conviction--a difficult job search. Eliminating these costs would increase crime rates under a model of crime under which criminals weigh expected costs against benefits in deciding wether or not to commit crime. Perhaps better legitimate-sector opportunities lowers crime rates among past-criminals, but less punishment for crime increases crime rates overall. Thus, the question of whether or not such a change will lower total crime rates is empirical, and yet unanswered.
Sunday, December 27, 2009
Smart Answers to Recidivism
The New York Times editorial "Smart Answers to Recidivism" (December 24th, 2009) fails to consider the major repercussions of eliminating major post-sentence criminal punishments. The article suggests that making legitimate-sector job opportunities more available to ex-convicts will lower their recidivism rates. The article describes the changes to ex-convict employment that it supports: