U.S. Senator Cory “Spartacus” Booker a proponent of criminal justice reform has indicated his support of a bill introduced in the Senate on November 15, 2018. Booker has said “Having a felony on your record is a lifetime sentence. You can’t get pell grants, you can’t get food stamps, you can’t get business licenses, you can’t get jobs. You have a lifetime sentence. This system is toxic in every way”. Booker appears to support reducing sentencing guidelines and hiding criminal records from potential employers. Perhaps Mr. Spartacus should focus on preventing crime not making our workplaces and streets less safe by giving criminals a pass.
Booker takes credit for being instrumental in adding key sentencing provisions to the bill. During his five years in the Senate Booker has made criminal justice reform his priority having introduced numerous criminal justice reform proposals, including: the REDEEM Act, the CARERS Act, the PRIDE Act, the MERCY Act, the Fair Chance Act, the Equal Justice Under Law Act, the Gideon Act, the Dignity for Incarcerated Women Act, the Reverse Mass Incarceration Act, and the Marijuana Justice Act.
For me this begs the question why is Booker so focused on making life easy for criminals instead of making life safe for law abiding citizens?
While I am not an expert on criminal justice reform after almost 25 years I am an expert in Human Resources and Talent Acquisition. Booker like failed Camden County Freeholder candidate Vincent Squire apparently supports hiding or expunging the criminal records of those released from prison. Booker has said “There are millions of Americans with records who are quickly passed over by employers without considering their skills or qualifications because of their history”.
I’ve said all of this before when Squire proposed giving ex-offenders an “amnesty of their prison record allowing them to seek employment”. As an HR and Talent Acquisition professional I know from experience that an applicant’s history will go a long way in predicting their future behavior. There are good reasons why employers perform background checks. Not the least of which is mitigating the risk of violent or disruptive behavior in the workplace. According to a study by the Society for Human Resource Management 36% of employers reported workplace violence incidents. Employers need to demonstrate due diligence in the event of an incident in the workplace. Employers face responsibility for their employees welfare and the safety of their customers. Negligent hiring is a legal term that describes an employer’s liability for an incident caused by an employee when the employer knew (or should have known) that the employee posed a risk. According to a survey conducted by background check provider HireRight 86% of employers have uncovered lies or misrepresentations on resumes or job applications. Additionally 72% said background screening uncovered issues they would not have otherwise found.
I am not saying that ex-offenders should not be able to re-enter society and earn a living. What I am saying is that employers have a right to protect their employees and their businesses by knowing the backgrounds of those they intend to hire.
Booker should be focused on reducing recidivism through job skills training and assistance adjusting back into society not reducing sentences for offenders or hiding criminal records from employers. The U.S. is now considered at “full employment” and in the strongest job market most of us remember. Unemployment claims are a the lowest point since 1969. For the first time in recorded history there are more available jobs then there are potential employees to fill those jobs. We should provide ex-offenders the job skills to allow them to successfully re-enter society and be gainfully employed but we cannot withhold their criminal record from potential employers and it seems obvious that reducing sentencing guidelines will increase not decrease crime.
Unfortunately President Trump and several Senate Republicans have said they will support some form of criminal justice reform. It is yet to been seen how much Republicans and Democrats are in agreement on the issue.