Give offenders a chance [Letter]

March 20, 2014

As legislation that has every good intention gets watered down, the downtrodden get trod on even more ("Banning the box," March 17).

The intention of the "Ban the Box" employment bill before the Baltimore City Council is not to get jobs to those who need them, it is to get those who need jobs into the front door in order to have a conversation about a job. When we allow businesses to put loopholes in this kind of a law, we still allow the kind of blatant arbitrary discrimination that has gone on for too many years already.

The job market is tough enough. Baltimore is not meeting Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake's goal of 10,000 new residents. The loopholes that allow a business to just throw out a job application because they check a box negate the true intent of the legislation. If a candidate has the skills and experience for a job, he or she should be allowed a face-to-face meeting. A person's past doesn't necessarily predict the future.

If we, as a society, tell people who have served their time that they will always be regarded as an offender and we attach that "Scarlet Letter" to them, we lose out on their otherwise useful experiences, qualities and their needed skills. Councilman Nick Mosby's proposal actually does not go far enough. People should have a right to a face-to-face interview. There is always that question to be asked to the person directly — about their offense and what they've learned from it. This opportunity is still denied by these "loopholes and amendments" to a person's right to have that face-to-face.

An interview ought to be mandatory. This is the part that Mr. Mosby is not strict enough about. The process of obtaining a job is difficult enough. Neither the boss or the prospect is well and properly served if it doesn't take place.

Paul Behler

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