The New York Times editorial page is a real bright spot when it comes to criminal-justice issues, and today's editorial on recently passed laws in several states that make it easier to hire the formerly incarcerated is no different:
A new law that takes effect in Connecticut in October bars government employers or licensing agencies from looking into a prospective employee’s criminal history in connection with most jobs until the person has been “deemed otherwise qualified for the position.” It also requires the agency to take into account the relationship of the crime to the job, the extent of the applicant’s rehabilitation and the time that has elapsed since the conviction or release.
Confining people with criminal convictions to the very margins of society is unfair and self-defeating. These sensible new laws recognize that.
Prior to the new administration taking office, there was a growing bipartisan consensus -- reflected in Bush-era legislation like the Second Chance Act -- that our criminal-justice policies were unjust and counterproductive. They're also something else: Expensive. Every formerly incarcerated person in the workforce is one less recidivist the taxpayer has to pay for. Not every job rehab program for the formerly incarcerated is going to work, but making it a little less difficult for the formerly incarcerated to find work is a good idea.