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Ex-Convicts to Become a Protected Class in DC?

Amy Ridenour has the scoop. Here's a portion:

From a Legal Times (subscription required) October 30 article by Brendan Smith, we learn the unsurprising name of the sponsor of this unanimously-adopted legislation, and more. I recommend the entire article, which has more detail than copyright law permits me to reprint, but here are excerpts:
D.C. Council member Marion Barry's record of public service spans five decades, yet many people still remember him for that grainy FBI surveillance video showing him inhaling from a crack-cocaine pipe in the Vista Hotel in 1990...


...Barry is now pushing a bill that would add rehabilitated ex-offenders to the already-expansive list of classes protected from employment discrimination under the D.C. Human Rights Act of 1977...

...Five states ban discrimination against ex-offenders by both public and private employers under certain circumstances. But Kenneth Saunders, director of the D.C. Office of Human Rights, says he doesn't know of any state that has added ex-offenders as a protected class under human rights law....

...Barry says many employers, including the D.C. government, discriminate against ex-offenders, in part because some businesses are "myopic in their thinking."

Because employers are concerned that ex-offenders just might re-offend just like Marion Barry did?

Read the rest of Amy's post.

Update: DC Councilman Phil Mendelson is troubled by this bill. From the Washington Examiner:

Mendelson said he worried if the bill passed as is, it could lead to lawsuits against employers who turn down employees whose ex-offender status might have directly affected their ability to do the job or who simply weren't qualified for the position in question.


"For example, someone who robbed a bank, you don't want working in a bank," Mendelson said. "There are instances where a person's previous run-ins with law enforcement are relative to a decision. How do you write the bill so that you draw a bright line? That's what's troubling."

You don't. The fact that Mendelson is even considering this bill in any form is unacceptable. Ex-convicts are ex-convicts because of their own behavior, not because of characteristics that they were born with such as skin color or sex. With this bill, we could have convicted child molesters trying to force their way into day care centers and schools.

Update II: So, if Marion Barry's bill passes, Sandy Burglar would become a member of a protected class, making it illegal to deny him a job in DC because he stole classified documents from the National Archives. By the way, he didn't throw them in the trash, as he claimed. He hid them under a trailer. How appropriate.


Comments (10)

There is a write-up on the ... (Below threshold)
Mark:

There is a write-up on the bill in the DC Examiner here:

http://www.examiner.com/a-464427~Mendelson_troubled_by_ex_offender_bill.html

Isn't Mr. Barry yet another... (Below threshold)
Old Coot:

Isn't Mr. Barry yet another example of the Dems not taking out their trash? Curious what our resident trolls think about this.

Sounds like a new strain of... (Below threshold)
Rovin:

Sounds like a new strain of a "culture of cruption", but I'm sure Nanc Poo has an antidote.

And ya got the other half of their leadership over seas makin' deals with our enemies ?

Great "change" huh.

/sarc off

Yeah, not giving DC represe... (Below threshold)
MikeSC:

Yeah, not giving DC representation in Congress seems like such a really bad idea.

I mean, they don't do anything mind-numbingly idiotic and they NEVER re-elect criminals.
-=Mike

Yet neurological disorders ... (Below threshold)
gattsuru:

Yet neurological disorders not significantly affecting one's ability to perform a job are regularly discriminated against, and not protected by the DC HRA. Wow.

So a violent felon will have a better chance working at a local convenience store than a kid with Asperger's.

What's ill considered too i... (Below threshold)

What's ill considered too is the rate of recidivism of certain crimes. For sex offenders it's high. It's also high for drug related crimes. "Rehabilitated" is a pretty loosely applied term and "paying one's debt to society" is also loosely defined. I wouldn't hire a person, for instance, who had been charged with credit card fraud when part of their job is to handle people's charge cards every day.

Theodore Dalrymple put it well:

When prisoners are released from prison, they often say that they have paid their debt to society. This is absurd, of course: crime is not a matter of double-entry bookkeeping. You cannot pay a debt by having caused even greater expense, nor can you pay in advance for a bank robbery by offering to serve a prison sentence before you commit it. Perhaps, metaphorically speaking, the slate is wiped clean once a prisoner is released from prison, but the debt is not paid off.

Oyster,And just th... (Below threshold)
Mark:

Oyster,

And just think: in DC it could be illegal to deny a teaching position (or a spot in a daycare center) to someone who is a convicted pedophile.

That's gotta warm the hearts of parents everywhere...

Washington D.C., the munici... (Below threshold)
ptg:

Washington D.C., the municipality, is America's Zimbabwe. Marion wants to be Mugabe.

Attention DC businesses! Vi... (Below threshold)
Scott:

Attention DC businesses! Virginia has lots of expansion potential for you when you leave DC! Come on over!

First I must state that the... (Below threshold)
CDuRant:

First I must state that there is so much incorrect information in this and other articles/comments due to the lack of responsibility people take in keeping themselves informed.

There are over 16 protected classes under the DC Human Rights Act including source of income, personal appearance, marital status (last time I checked that was a choice and not a characteristic you were born with), matriculation status (same for that), religion, sexual preference, etc. The list goes on and on. Those classes are all afforded the same level of protection although they are not, arguably some are, traits you have at birth.

Secondly, as far as child molesters...the bill includes an exception for those convicted of sexual offenses as well as those working in facilities that will allow them to have contact with children and the elderly.

The bill's main goal is to prevent discrimination based SOLELY on a conviction record where the conviction is NOT RELATED TO THE JOB SOUGHT. So if Sally the Bank Robber wanted to get a job at a bank an employer will have the ability to determine that her conviction is obviously related to the job and not employ her. Further, there is an exception for violent crimes all-together.

This bill has been reintroduced and will hopefully pass again this council session (as it did last session 10-2 with a very conservative council). This bill has good intentions of protecting the members of society who have convictions but have paid their debt to society and are trying to successfully reintegrate and NOT recidivate. Which is what we demand and expect of them, but they cannot if they are not being hired for jobs because they are ex-offenders. IT becomes a never-ending cycle. And instead of saying, "it's not my problem, they committed the crime" why not create solutions so that Sally the bank robber doesn't keep robbing the bank instead of getting a paying job!

Lastly, an individual must be qualified to obtain a job. If an ex-offender is not qualified for the position, that should be the reason he or she is denied, not because they have a past record that is not related to the job sought.





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