Ex-prisoners shouldn’t have to declare record when first applying for jobs, says Cardinal Nichols


Speaking at a conference at St Mary’s University Twickenham, the cardinal said a change to the job application process would help create stable employment

Ex-prisoners shouldn’t have to declare their criminal convictions on initial job application forms, Cardinal Vincent Nichols has said.

The cardinal told delegates at a conference on prison chaplaincy that employers should wait until a later stage of the interview process to disclose past convictions. He said this move would give ex-convicts the chance to “put their past in context and show who they really are”.



I agree. If we want prisoners to be law abiding citizens, then we should make it easier for them to get a job. If they can’t find a job because everyone sees they broke the law at one time, then all I see happening is a vicious circle of crime. :shrug:


I would agree that non-violent offenders should essentially have their record expunged upon completion of their sentence- a clean slate. It’s nearly impossible for someone with a felony on their record to get a good job.

On the flip side, a violent offender- a rapist, murderer, etc…do you really want to hire someone like that unknowingly? I think there are certain crimes where the individual does need to forfeit their right to other people not knowing what they did. The unfortunate thing is that this would make it hard for them to get good work which could result in recidivist behavior, but in the US particularly where we do such a poor job of actually rehabilitating prisoners (since our system is based on punishment and confinement, not on rehabilitation) the dangers of allowing violent offenders free access to any type of job seems to be the worse of the two evils.


Can’t entirely agree. If a “non-violent offender” has a record involving financial issues such as misappropriation of funds, computer crime at a prior job such that employer funds were stolen, customer funds stolen, etc., I think financial institutions and businesses should be able to know that before hiring someone for a position where that same kind of trust has been violated before. “Financial advisors” who have been imprisoned for things like draining or diverting funds of clients shouldn’t have an even shot at that same kind of job in the future.


It is not as simple as we would like to make it out to be…, the convicted child molester or child port disributor need not disclose that first time conviction when applying to be a school teacher?


I agree. What is the persuasive reason to believe an embezzler will embezzle no more? People don’t always embezzle money out of greed, exactly. Of the ones I have known, it’s something deeper than that. For example, I know one woman who embezzled something like $40,000 from her employer in order to have liposuction and a tummy tuck. So it wasn’t greed. It was some strange thing about her appearance, some compulsion. She did spend about two years in the pen for it, but what is the reason to think her psyche is now okay. Why would we think a face lift isn’t next?

I know of another one who embezzled about $80,000 from a bank. She spent it absolutely everywhere, mostly on clothes, car and expensive jewelry. Her husband, not knowing what any of that stuff really cost, just supposed she was paying for those things out of her salary, and the FBI was convinced he didn’t know she was doing it. So, what compulsion was there? Is it cured now?

Maybe I could trust one of those now, and maybe I wouldn’t. But I ought to at least be able to make the judgment on the level of risk I wished to take.

For both of them, however, factory work is always there, at least around here. They hire ex felons without blinking an eye.


You make a good point. There just aren’t easy answers here.


I agree. Everyone deserves a second chance and we could not be defined by our mistakes. Can you imagine if we had to disclose our confessions before getting a job? In my opinion most criminals just got caught and did the time. They should get a second chance.
But I am kinda into forgiveness and mercy…


So if you were an employer, how would you feel about hiring a non violent book keeper who embezzled money from her former employer but that was hidden from you by expungement of her record. How would you feel about hiring a non violent forklift driver with a history of drug abuse and DUI? How would you feel about hiring a former burglar? Simply serving out a sentence does not mean a criminal has reformed. An employer has a right to know the history of his workers.


I already acknowledged to another poster that pointed out a problem with my thinking on that that I could see their point. I see your point as well. I do think it is problematic that people who have paid their debt to society continue to have to declare that they are a convicted felon and that often results in denial of a good job for them. The inability to get decent work probably contributes to recidivism. But yes, in the United States particularly where our penal system does not focus on rehabilitation, this is a problem. I don’t know what the answer is. Do you punish someone forever even for non-violent offenses by making them declare their crime for the rest of their lives and thus limit them to poorer paying work or no job at all? Do you take it on a case-by-case basis, further overloading an already overloaded and inefficient system? Or do you take a chance by expunging all records upon release and hope for the best? I don’t know. I think the current system in the U.S. isn’t working well. But yes, I can see your point as well. I know that in Europe where they focus much more heavily on rehabilitation and education that they have a much lower rate of recidivism. Perhaps our system should focus more on rehabilitating people so that when they exit the prisons they can become contributing members of society. I see some people complain about suggestions like that about how we have to work for our education, and that prisons shouldn’t be country clubs or whatever, but what is the lesser of two evils- giving someone the education and counseling they need so that they can secure a good job when they get out of prison, or releasing predators onto society?


Like I said, I believe everyone deserves a second chance. One DUI doesn’t make someone always a drunk. Same for embezzlement. And the employer could always run a background check. But again, just my opinion.


Would depend entirely on the nature and seriousness of the criminal offence. Violent and sexual offences should always require disclosure. Stealing from a tuck shop at age twelve,maybe not.


On one hand, I’d like to see ex convicts given a chance. However, if I were an employer, I’d want to look into the past records of an applicant, including if he was jailed and for what reason. You can’t blame employers for wanting that. :shrug:


Fine, I hope every British convict applies for a job at whatever the good cardinal is in charge of managing.


Yes, an employer has good reason to assess any prior convictions of a potential employee.

My understanding of the “ban the box” campaign is that it seeks to allow an applicant to explain themselves to the employer, face to face, and to answer any questions or concerns. The concern with the current system is that employers simply screen out any applicant with a criminal record, and so the ex-felon never has a change to make his case for being reformed.


Sometimes a criminal history matters and sometimes it does not. One cannot even serve as a volunteer in a Catholic Church if one has a previous sex offense. Perhaps a similar system might serve as a way of aiding employers. For a financial institute, as simple yes or no record check could be run for offenses that would matter to that institutions, for retail, as similar check. That way a sex offender could work in a bank, an embezzler in a school. A drug user, or alcoholic, pretty much anywhere except a bar, liquor store or pharmacy.


Naturally common sense should prevail, but for nearly every single job out there to require a background check, is a bit ridiculous imo.

I can understand BG checks when jobs deals with children, the elderly, large amounts of cash/ valuables, but when we have temp agencies requiring a clean BG check to work at a warehouse or distribution center, or my own company, requiring a BG check to be a minimum wage cashier at a gas station…well, thats just nonsense.

I think law enforcement keeps this BG check mentality around, its to their benefit for the ex-con to remain in the criminal lifestyle.

Not to mention, back in the days when an ex-con could just lie about their record and get hired on just about anywhere, we did not seem to have nearly the amount of workplace problems we have today, now, how does that make any sense?


If you are an employer you are free to make such a decision, but other employers should not have to do so if they don’t want to.


In some states in the US, there is a thing called “Seal & Expunge”, where a one-time conviction of certain crimes can be either expunged (removed) from your record, or sealed (only high level access to see it). There are requirements like length of time since it happened, clean record since it happened, etc.

So there is already a mechanism in place in some places for a second chance. I don’t know if all states have this feature.

We must also take into consideration the safety of the business hiring these felons. And the employees who work there. Plus in our sue-happy culture, a business hiring a felon, even if they didn’t know of the felony, could still be hit with a lawsuit if that person commits a crime against a customer or employee.


Background checks are almost universal now, so they will find out about any Felony convictions.

The toughest job is their first job out of prison. They do get a second chance but they usually start from the bottom.

There is also recidivism among new releases, which an employer should accept knowingly.

And what about sex offenders, should an employer have the right to know?

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