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Monday, 7 January, 2002, 13:13 GMT
Should employers give ex-cons a second chance?
Employers are being asked to give a fresh start to ex-offenders in a bid to cut crime and unemployment.
A report issued by the Trades Union Congress, TUC, says it is unfair to further punish people who have served time in prison by denying them work.
Legislation due to come into force next autumn will allow bosses the right to ask jobseekers for evidence of criminal convictions.
But the TUC is concerned that ex-offenders may try to conceal their criminal records unless they know they will be treated fairly.
Should employers offer jobs to ex-offenders? Would you either recruit or work with an ex-con?
This Talking Point has now closed. Read a selection of your comments below.
Kevin Kinver, UK
It's up to each individual employer. They should be able to make their own mind up based on full knowledge of the crimes committed. In the end, it's the ex-con himself who wins or loses a job.
Unlike the other categories of people who might find themselves on the wrong end of employers' bigotry, criminals only fall into their category by virtue of their own actions. Being a criminal, in other words, is a self-inflicted stigma. People should consider this before they offend, and not expect an easy ride back to normal life just because they happen to have done their porridge. Why should an ex-con be given preference over other job applicants who are law-abiding citizens just for the sake of some politically correct ideal? There are too many apologists for bad behaviour in modern Britain. Maybe this is why there is an increase in crime: too few people are prepared to tell these people they are wrong.
I have a friend who I discovered had spent time in prison in his early 20's for car theft. He married and has brought up 3 well-behaved, hard working children. People can change and those who want to ought to be given a second chance.
Jimmy Boyle was one of Scotland's hardest gangsters and one of the prison system's most resistant inmates. He is now a successful author, sculptor and educator, and he does more good societal work than most people I know. Try telling him prisoners can't become worthy contributors to society.
Peter Regan, UK
Of course employers should give
ex-convicts a second chance.
The term "ex-convict" is
so very vague and I think that is half the
problem. Today's society often boasts
of its open-minded, "anything goes"
attitude when in actual fact the majority
are ready to stereotype, or at least
jump to an incorrect conclusion.
If ex-convicts were not given a second
chance then we might as well bring
back the death penalty.
I think that the death penalty is
a backward sentence, and it still
How can taking a person's life be
punishment for the individual when it
is the convict's family and friends who
suffer the loss?
Ex-convicts have paid the price for
their crime. Whilst there is no guarantee
that the ex-con has changed, by law,
the persons in question are now free-
and open to opportunities.
Those with custodial sentences, have more than likely had 2 or 3 chances already, before finally being locked up. No more chances! They must now prove to society that they are ready to be integrated with it.
I came back from work tonight to find that the rear doors were kicked open by some thief. Fortunately, this place, like most in Hungary, is alarmed. Given that the perpetrator will probably be jailed and released in three months time how do you think I would feel? As it is, I have to stay up most of tonight in case of a repeat performance, and try to calm my girlfriend down in the process. Lets get real here - there are plenty of honest people out there still worthy of employment. Why take the risk with a lowlife?
It's a cliché but when someone comes out from prison they have "paid their debt to society". If they want to work, let them work. Criminal records should pay no part in job interviews. Otherwise even a sentence of one day will become a life sentence.
It depends on the crime the ex-con has committed. A friend of mine has just been released from prison after six months. He was convicted of assault, which was actually self-defence. Does my friend not deserve to have a good job? I think he does.
There's not a lot of point in sending people to prison and expecting them not to re-offend on release unless they are offered jobs. They have to support themselves somehow, so the choice is simple: employ them, give them state benefits or let them steal!
Nothing is ever black and white. It depends on the type of crime. A one-time thief is not the same as a multiple murderer. If the courts see fit to release somebody into society, then surely that person has a right to work? If anything should change, it should be our justice system.
Would I like to work with an ex-con? Sure, no problem. Would I like to work with someone who holds petty, prejudiced opinions about a group of people that have already paid their due? Not really.
It's far better to have an ex-con working rather than signing-on. They get self-respect and self-esteem; we get less of a demand on the social security budget. Hopefully, nobody should lose.
Until each and every one of us reaches perfection, we should allow second chances to those who fall below our own superior standards. Otherwise, how will society improve?
Michael Entill, UK
I would give these people another chance conditionally. I think we should be tolerant of those who make up their mind to turn over a new leaf. So if I was a boss, I would hold an interview to evaluate their determination and attitude to help me make the right decision.
Well ,Geoff, UK, they aren't criminals once they have served their time. If you think they should spend longer in jail, then address that issue, but once set free, they should have all the rights of the rest of society. I'm afraid comments like these are the sad result of a society that has lost faith in its judicial system. However, let us not confuse those like Dave, Manchester, who believe that all criminals should be cast in the lake of fire for eternity and those who are worried that although punishment may have been completed, that rehabilitation may not.
Dave, Manchester, UK
Dave in Manchester is spot on. Why should ex-cons take jobs away from law-abiding people?
What rot. I am an employer and in good times I have up to sixty employees. And yes I have employed ex-cons. I can truly say that ex-cons have never stolen any more than the budding future cons! Simply put, never encourage theft by being lax, and more often than not, most thefts are committed by people you least expect. The biggest worry lies with sex offenders. These should be treated with the greatest of care. My suggestion would be that all jobs that involve child minding and other carer positions should be rubber stamped by an agency (statutory body) who would naturally have the right to view past records and not disclose, just say yes or no to the employer's recommendation. Who pays? User pays...
Charles Moore, Scotland
Any so-called positive discrimination in favour of ex-cons would herald a deafening howl of outrage from most our most righteous newspapers. This is in itself one reason to leave this kind of decision entirely with employers.
Mike Rogers, Wales
My decision would depend largely on the nature of the crime that had resulted in their conviction. I'd also bear in mind that someone who has committed a premeditated offence, then been caught and convicted for it, is probably not as clever as they think they are - so would I want to employ them anyway? Probably not.
02 Jan 02 | UK
Ex-offenders 'deserve job chance'
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