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Q: This doesn’t preclude background checks?
A: Businesses still and will ask applicants about criminal background and do checks. All this law does is give ex-offenders a chance to apply, maybe get a foot in the door for an interview before they are asked about any criminal background. There is less chance of recidivism when ex-offenders are working.
The U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission issued guidance about one year ago … that applies to private employees. They suggest employers hiring ex-offenders need “an individualized assessment” as opposed to just a blanket ‘‘we don’t want any felons.”
The EEOC says employers should look at the nature of the crime, the job that the person is applying for and the amount of time that has lapsed since they were convicted or incarcerated to ensure that it’s an appropriate hire and balancing the need for employers to hire people.
Q: How will this change affect our economy?
A: Studies show that ex-offenders who are not able to obtain employment following incarceration have a far greater risk of recidivism. Given the costs of crime and incarceration, encouraging businesses to employ ex-offenders has a definite positive economic impact. Furthermore, of the legislative options that could have been foisted upon businesses, this seems to be one of the least intrusive. In Wisconsin, for example, ex-offenders are a protected class under the state’s human rights law. Minnesota employers are still able to obtain information about past criminal history and make an informed decision for their business about hiring an ex-offender.
Neal St. Anthony • 612-673-7144