According to an article posted in today’s Chicago Tribune, U.S. Attorney Patrick Fitzgerald says the business community can help reduce violence in Chicago by hiring ex-convicts, since jobs help ex-offenders stay away from the criminal activity that landed them in jail.,0,4186410.story  

Speaking to a Chicago Civic Club, the Mr. Patrick said that many with criminal records want the chance to do something different with their lives and encouraged interested business leaders to talk to other companies that have hired ex-offenders about their experiences. 

The problem for businesses of course is they have the obligation to exercise due diligence in hiring, and if a perosn with an unsuitable criminal record is hired, it can be a legal and financial nightmares, with a dramatic impact on the live of innocent people. 

On the other hand, employers should also not automatically reject an applicant with a criminal record unless there is a business justification.  ESR take the position that there is a job for everyone, but not everyone is suitable for every job. 

The problem of course is complicated by the fact that our society does not want to create a permanent class of unemployable ex-offenders who can never re-enter society and be productive. Automatic rejection of any applicant with a criminal record makes it very difficult for an ex-offender to get back into the workforce. Given that, on the average, it costs over $30,000 a year to incarcerate a prisoner in the United States, and that without a job it is very difficult for an ex-offender to become a law abiding tax paying citizen, it is critical that society gives everyone an opportunity to work. Unless ex-offenders can get a second chance, our society will spend more time and resources building prisons instead of schools, hospitals and roads. This is a difficult issue facing society.  For more information, see a previous ESR blog at