L.A. Wants to Fine Companies That Ask About Criminal History

A Los Angeles City Council committee has voted in favor of a new regulation that would slap businesses with a $500 fine if they ask any applicant about their criminal history. The regulation, if passed by the council later this year, will be part of a new law that bans companies with 10 or more employees from probing an applicant’s criminal background before making an offer of employment. It’s part of the “Ban the Box” movement, an activist effort aimed at putting ex-cons back to work.

The ordinance would provide exceptions for employers who work in law enforcement and child care sectors.

To be sure, a criminal conviction should not – must not – come to mean that an individual can never again find gainful employment. It doesn’t take a brain surgeon to realize how this situation leads to increased recidivism rates, increased government dependency, and all-around unfortunate effects.

At the same time, though, this is a problem that should be addressed through an awareness campaign – not through government coercion. Provide incentives for employers who choose to hire ex-cons. Publicize statistics – if they exist – that show how former felons do not necessarily represent an employment risk. Strike down laws that actually prohibit ex-cons from working in many professions.

But don’t force private employers to go into the hiring process blindly.

Not only is this another example of government – local and federal – sticking its nose where it doesn’t belong, it’s part of a disturbing trend to decriminalize…crime. It’s part of this blanket belief system that blacks and other minorities are being arrested and convicted for simply not being white – a belief system that is spreading despite a regrettable lack of evidence. It’s part of the new liberal propaganda that basically says that minorities are not responsible for their own choices.

If there are fair, effective ways to put ex-felons back to work, we should pursue them.

But if that means forcing employers to carry out the will of a liberal, oppressive government, count us out.

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