As a clinical social worker with years of experience with clients involved in the criminal justice system, I have seen firsthand that having “a criminal record” and “a history of criminal behavior” are not necessarily the same thing (“Ban the box? Not yet,” editorial, Oct. 29). Having a criminal record is too often a consequence of limited financial resources.
Consider three 15-year-old males — a Latino, an African-American, and a white — with comparable backgrounds who are accused of the same nonviolent crime.
The nonwhite youth routinely is more likely to receive a harsher legal penalty than the white youth, is less likely to receive the mental health treatment needed to improve his behavior, and is less likely to have the means to have his records expunged as he matures.
The two minority youths are more likely to learn about incarceration as an option in life, though an unpleasant one. Young men are getting thrown away, and our society is weakened by that waste.
The U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission’s proposal sounds like a thoughtful and workable approach to public safety in the workplace. Closing off the possibility of gainful employment and a respected place in society for impulsive youths is not in the best interest of our community or society.
West Central Avenue
Criminal record box a good thing
Lucas County commissioners unanimously approved a measure eliminating a box inquiring about a criminal history on job applications (“Criminal records box nixed on job applications,” Oct. 30). This is a bad move.
If I were a director of human resources, I would not employ an individual who has abused children to work for the Department of Job and Family Services, or someone who has committed financial fraud to work with finances, or someone who has been convicted of animal cruelty to work in the dog warden’s office.
Commissioner Pete Gerken stated: “We will do criminal background checks at the appropriate time, under the appropriate circumstances, with the full knowledge of the applicants.”
In 2012, the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission said it’s illegal to screen potential employees unless their infraction is associated with the job they are applying for.
Doesn’t this defeat the purpose of eliminating the box?