This article in the Boston Globe has me pulled in two directions, so I thought we could discuss it here. The premise of the article is that CORI reform is necessary and that convicted felons should be allowed to have their records sealed in order to get better paying jobs or housing. For those of you who don't know: CORI is the criminal record that your employer, your landlord and your kids' school can get on you before you start a job, rent an apartment or volunteer at the school. As a former substitute teacher and summer camp counselor, I have been CORI'd many times.
But, I am having a hard time with this article because it focuses on a few individuals (tug at the human heartstrings, oh Boston Globe) to, in essence, add some personalization to the story. One of the women "highlighted" is a woman my age who was in jail for drugs and then assaulted a corrections officer. And wants to work with kids, which I think is admirable... kids should see the consequences of selling drugs and assaulting officers. Another 'gentleman' was working at a car wash before being dismissed by his boss due to his CORI record. His crime? He hit another man. With a handgun. Who was that other man? A rival drug dealer.
I do understand the idea of 'paying your debt' and moving on. I wish we could do that, I really do. But do I have the right to say, if I were a landlord or potential employer, that this is too much risk for me to assume by accepting this person in my home/office? Yes. Yes. Yes. and Yes again.
As a conservative, I don't want to see these people on the public dole for a lifetime either, so I do think they should be earning a living and paying for housing. What do we do? I know that some employers do hire ex-convicts and provide them with a decent wage and the opportunity to move ahead in life, but perhaps we should consider alternatives to relying on private companies to do this. One of the women in the above article was complaining that her $11/ hour job wasn't helping her get out of the public housing in Dorchester... and she intimated that she would have to return to selling drugs. How's that for trying to hold the state hostage?
My largest concern with CORI reform is that it will take the right to proactively protect yourself, your home, your investment, your business, your employees in a prophylactic manner and hand it over to the select "few" who have willfully chosen to disobey the law or commit violent offenses.
My $0.02 for what it's worth... this is just what's on my mind today. Feel free to chime in, but remember, I'm a person so please don't just yell at me. :)