Date of Original Version
"We know from experience that if former prisoners can’t find work, or a home, or help, they are much more likely to commit more crimes and return to prison…. America is the land of the second chance, and when the gates of the prison open, the path ahead should lead to a better life." – President George W. Bush, 2004
The Fifth Amendment of the U.S. Constitution provides that no person shall be deprived of life, liberty, or property without due process of law. When applying these basic rights of privacy, security, and property to employers, employees, the general public, and ex-offenders, the balancing of these rights can become quite problematic and raises several important questions in regards to policy. One method that employers use to protect their property rights is to rely on background checks through criminal records to exclude potential bad candidates from the selection process. Given that research has shown that most ex-offenders stop committing crimes in their late thirties, relying on criminal record checks has the potential to create a society of unemployable people. This paper examines the use of criminal records in the selection process by employers as well as analyzing the barriers that ex-offenders confront and discuss to what extent those barriers are based on their own characteristics and attitude, as opposed to those of the employer and the results of being incarcerated. Finally, a review of current policy and recommended legislative changes are discussed that could potentially reduce some of the barriers opposing ex-offenders in the labor market.