Paying a Price, Long After the Crime


By ALFRED BLUMSTEIN and KIMINORI NAKAMURA

IN 2010, the Chicago Public Schools declined to hire Darrell Langdon for a job as a boiler-room engineer, because he had been convicted of possessing a half-gram of cocaine in 1985, a felony for which he received probation. It didn’t matter that Mr. Langdon, a single parent of two sons, had been clean since 1988 and hadn’t run into further trouble with the law. Only after The Chicago Tribune wrote about his case did the school system reverse its decision and offer him the job.

Steve Attardo

 

A stunning number of young people are arrested for crimes in this country, and those crimes can haunt them for the rest of their lives. In 1967, President Lyndon B. Johnson’s Crime Commission found that about half of American males could expect to be arrested for a nontraffic offense some time in their lives, mostly in their late teens and early 20s. An article just published in the journal Pediatrics shows how the arrest rate has grown — by age 23, 30 percent of Americans have been arrested, compared with 22 percent in 1967. The increase reflects in part the considerable growth in arrests for drug offenses and domestic violence.

The impact of these arrests is felt for years. The ubiquity of criminal-background checks and the efficiency of information technology in maintaining those records and making them widely available, have meant that millions of Americans — even those who served probation or parole but were never incarcerated — continue to pay a price long after the crime. In November the American Bar Association released a database identifying more than 38,000 punitive provisions that apply to people convicted of crimes, pertaining to everything from public housing to welfare assistance to occupational licenses. More than two-thirds of the states allow hiring and professional-licensing decisions to be made on the basis of an arrest alone.

Contnue Reading @ NY Times

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One thought on “Paying a Price, Long After the Crime

  1. The way to end The New Jim Crow is to foster productive work both in and outside of prison. Historically, this usually means employment in the world of business, private enterprise. To accomplish this for prisoners, we as a nation should abolish the barriers to full employment in prison — and those barriers are ones set up by the government itself to discourage prison industries. Now . . . to prevent competition with law-abiding labor and businesses, we ought to allow prisoners to make goods now made exclusively overseas. This will help all Americans. To reduce the prison population, we need to bring back judicial corporal punishment and the wearing of metal collars by offenders — anything is better than prison. Please read “Prison & Slavery – A Surprising Comparison” for a full explanation of what’s keeping us from working.

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