Sunday, December 14, 2014

The Problem With Background Checks

The Wall Street Journal finally realized what myself and a few others have known for some time, that the adoption of background checks by private business is creating a class of unemployable, unhousable people. Their front page story in this weekend's edition calls attention to the issues faced by business human resources departments that are caught between possible legal responsibilities in hiring felons and mandates by the EEOC that require them to consider those same felons for employment. Tsk, tsk.

Sure, it's a problem for the business community, when the satisfactory or ideal candidate for an open position is a convicted felon. Dissatisfied customers can use the presence of a felon on the job in adverse legal proceedings. Who needs the grief? But this is more than just a hassle for HR departments.

The guys with the real problems are the felons themselves. They've become basically unemployable in the normal economy since they can't pass a background check. Once they fail a background check, they know it's a waste of time to even apply for another position. Employment isn't the only problem for them. Failure to pass a background check usually means they can't get rental housing, either. And having once failed the background check, they can never pass it again. Since this is the case, the unemployable felons (Once a felon, forever a felon.) can only increase in number. It's said that there are now 48 million felons in the US.

Nevertheless, ex-cons need to eat, get out of the rain at night and wear clothes. They're unlikely to commit suicide. In fact, they're more likely to be killed. Having a rap sheet a mile long, Eric Garner was unemployable and lucky to be able to peddle loosey cigarettes to make ends meet. That is, he was until the NYPD put him in a strangle hold.

What's the future in the land of the free and the home of the brave look like for felons, and non-felons as well? First of all, the growing number will create another class that will have to survive outside of the economy. Gray market businesses will spring up to supply their needs and use their labor. Since the only sources of income for background check failures will be the generosity of their friends and family, the dole, black market employment or crime, they'll continue to be an ever bigger problem for the nation/state.This particular nation/state, the US, was founded by Puritans and while their religious outlook has disappeared, their ethics and morality survive to this day, enshrined in the tenets of capitalism. These tenets do not include the number one in Christianity, forgiveness. God may forgive but the nation/state? Never.

No comments: