Opinion L.A.

Observations and provocations
from The Times' Opinion staff

« Previous Post | Opinion L.A. Home | Next Post »

May 11 buzz: Reformed gang members seeking jobs

May 11, 2011 |  2:03 pm

Most viewed, commented and shared: A life sentence of joblessness

"The mark of our society as civilized will come when we embrace confidence in the power of redemption," writes Gregory J. Boyle (better known as Father Boyle of Homeboy Industries) in an Op-Ed about how it behooves us to give former gang members a chance to prove themselves through work.

The business of second chances is everybody's business. We lose our right to be surprised that California has the highest recidivism rate in the country if we refuse to hire folks who have taken responsibility for their crimes and have done their time.

Even in this alarming economic climate, where the pool of prospective employees is larger than ever, we need to find the moral imperative as a society to secure places in our workforce for those who just need a chance to prove themselves. This can't be the concern only of a large gang rehab center; it must also be part of our collective response to keep our streets safe and our communities healthy.

There's some pushback on the discussion board from job-seekers and employers, such as these comments (spelling corrected):

Damn G... I've never been arrested, never killed or shot or maimed anyone. I've got an education, and have worked my entire adult life. I've got decent credit, and have been a productive member of society, and *I* have a hard time finding a good job. But, really, let me try to feel sorry for you. I'm so sorry for working hard my whole life while you were out there 'bangin'. you are totally right, you are SO MUCH more qualified for the job I'm applying for than I am. What on earth was I thinking?

--taubin

I totally disagree with the author's statement:

"The business of second chances is everybody's business. We lose our right to be surprised that California has the highest recidivism rate in the country if we refuse to hire folks who have taken responsibility for their crimes and have done their time."

As an employer, it is my responsibility to employ people who I can trust, and as a general rule, I refuse to trust anyone who has engaged in violent crime, drug crime, etc. When there is a huge pool of educated, law-abiding out-of-work candidates in the work pool, why would I take a chance on anyone who has demonstrated their capacity to felonious behavior? Simple scenario: two candidates interview for the same position, both are the same age, both are of the same race, both have limited experience (let's be honest... just how much experience can a former gang member and inmate have in anything but the most mundane functions?), but one has been convicted of a violent crime and spent time in jail whereas the other hasn't. Can you really suggest that I should hire the former inmate? Why? out of some sense of altruism? Never in a million years: I'll take my chances with the un-convicted of the two every time.

--flyonfriday

On the other side of the debate are readers advocating for second chances and the betterment of our society as a whole:

I understand the jealousy that some might feel at criminals being guaranteed jobs when others are denied a way to make a legitimate living.  But look at it as leverage for your own position.  Those who can find or create jobs are recognizing a responsibility that should extend to every job seeker.  If they can find employment for criminals, they can surely find employment for you.  Put the pressure on them.

--L Kurt Engelhart

These people are not rehabilitated in prison but learn more about nefarious acts. Finding ways for them to contribute to society should be a high priority.  I bet that a lot of these prisoners just need a second chance.

--Mind Tricks

ALSO TRENDING:

Jonah Goldberg backlash

Midwest flooding

The man behind Trader Joe's

 How to stop healthcare costs from going up

Killing vs. capturing Osama Bin Laden

--Alexandra Le Tellier

Comments ()

Advertisement










Video