Felons In The Workforce

Felons In The Workforce

In 2010 it is estimated that 19.8 million people representing 8.6% of the population of the United States have a felony conviction.  This is almost double what it was in 1980. Within some minority populations those possessing a felony conviction exceeds 25%.*

What is an employer to do?  Can you have a policy where by no felons will be hired, no felons will be allowed to rent and apartment, no felons will be allowed a professional license.   Are we down to NFNA signs! (No Felon Need Apply)**.

As I write this as I have seen several very good people end up with felony convictions under dubious or stupid circumstances.

SOME REAL LIFE EXAMPLES

A woman was driving and lost control of her car which ended up crashing in the desert outside of Tucson, Arizona.  In the crash she took out three saguaro cacti.  She was charged with three felonies for cutting down a protected species.  She received a single felony conviction and suspended sentence.  The felony conviction caused her to lose her realtor’s and her insurance sales licenses.

A man received a sample of 3 grams of elemental sodium metal via the US Post office. (A dollar bill weighs one gram to give you an idea of the amount.) Under certain conditions, if exposed to water, and near and ignition source, sodium can produce an explosive chemical reaction. After receiving the shipment he sent an email to the seller giving them all sorts of heck for sending it by USPS.  He then self reported the illegal shipment to the USPS.  When asked why he took delivery, he responded: “The sodium is much safer in my control than bouncing around the back of USPS truck.” This man received a felony conviction, spent 60 days in jail and lost his chemical supply business.  The conviction was based upon the fact that he knowingly received such an illegal shipment.

A man in California attended a bachelor’s party.  He knew he had too much to drink.  Unable to secure a hotel room, he went to his car to sleep of the booze.  The hotel security guard reported to the police the drunk in the parking lot.  The police came, woke him up, and tested him for liquor.   Since he had his keys on him, he was charge with aggravated DUI – a felony charge.   After spending over fifty thousand dollars in legal fees – he was convicted of a felony DUI.  He lost his civil engineer’s license, as well and his hydrological engineer’s license.  One year later – despite have nothing to drink since that evening his wife left him over money issues.

There is a massive overreach in law and in punishment.  I doubt that any person can go through a given day without breaking scores of laws.  All of the laws you are breaking are without intent. It does not matter that you don’t intend to break the law.  If you are caught and charged – expect to spend tens of thousands defending yourself.  If you are convicted – understand that any jail time or fines are just the beginning.  As a felon the punishment will never end – never!***

Now, we can assume that on average 8.6% of the workforce are felons.  This percentage jumps dramatically in the minority black or Hispanic groups.   What are you to do?  Do you keep the NFNA rules in place or do you dare to think for yourself?

This is issue that Human Resource departments and hiring managers need to think about – at a minimum.

* GROWTH IN THE U.S. EX-FELON AND EX-PRISONER POPULATION, 1948 TO 2010

Sarah Shannon, Christopher Uggen, Melissa Thompson, Jason Schnittker, and Michael Massoglia.

** There used to be signs on the front of the stores in Chicago with four simple letters NINA (No Irish Need Apply – also stood for No Italian Need Apply)

*** Do read Three Felonies A Day: How the Feds Target the Innocent, by Harvey Silvergate if you want to know more about this.

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3 Responses

  1. Someone says:

    There is valid reason to be more afraid of the enforcement/judicial system than of the criminals it reputedly seeks to control. If 9% of the US populations are guilty of true felonies, and a much larger percentage of true misdemeanors, then there is something desperately wrong with the ethics and morality of our culture.

    I believe that the difficulty lies not with the citizenry, but rather the gross overreach, power and empire building on the part of law enforcement.

  2. Tim Dees says:

    The DUI story either has missing details or is contrived. Felony DUI doesn’t get charged unless there is an accident with injury, a hit-and-run, or there are multiple prior DUI convictions. I’ve seen misdemeanor DUI cases charged under the circumstances described, but they’re difficult cases to make.

  3. aegisadmin says:

    Tim – I made a call to the person who was the subject of the Felony DUI and you are correct, there was a part missing. He had a suspended driver’s license from an accident two years previous where he was not at fault, but rather he failed to show show proof of insurance, was cited and never dealt with the citation. None the less, it was an expense and very harsh penalty for trying to sleep it off in the car.

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