FEBRUARY 13, 2007
The District of Columbia wants to join nearly a dozen states in protecting felons who want to work and live in its boundaries after being released from prison.
District lawmakers want to pass legislation that would ban employers from looking into an applicant’s criminal background and would prohibit any sort of discrimination in employment, housing and education against felons.
Thousands of imprisoned criminals return to the District each year after serving their sentence and most are uneducated, possess no job skills and are alienated from their families. Evidently, this has struck a sympathy cord with District Mayor Adrian Fenty and at least half of the 11 council members who say society is unwilling to give the convicts a second chance.
This is why they support and plan to vote for the Human Rights for Ex-Offenders Act, which was sponsored by Councilman Harry Thomas, a Democrat who said that passing the law is essential because without it “we’re asking ex-offenders to pay a dept already collected.”
Massachusetts’ new governor apparently subscribes to the same theory and has come under fire for attempting to reverse a longtime state law that allows employers broad access to the criminal records of potential employees. Governor Deval Patrick, a former Clinton administration official, is working to ban employers’ access to the criminal records because it discriminates against the convicted felon.
One editorial called the new governor’s proposal a mistake because employers have the right to know whether someone has a criminal record or whether someone is lying on a job application. The American Thinker calls it criminal rights over public safety.
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