Cops to help former criminals hide info from employers

Though my productivity at work has declined to the point it looks like I’m stealing, I am not a criminal.

Snellville police are a friendly bunch. (Photo courtesy Snellville Police Department)

That’s a good thing. The life of a criminal, we all know, is rough. How rough?

According to recent reports, inmates at the minimum-security federal prison camp in southeast Atlanta have to “escape” to use drugs or alcohol and meet women. Not wanting to cause too much trouble, most return to their cells when the party is over.

Much to the chagrin of the incarcerated, the lackadaisical warden has “suddenly retired.”

Fortunately, there are others eager to make life better for the legally challenged.

Snellville police will be at Gwinnett High School June 3 to help people struggling to get a job “clean up” their criminal past.

When I was in high school police showed up to scare students straight. I remember deputies dragging some sad fellow in to tell us his life was derailed because of the malevolent forces of marijuana. His acting skills probably got him out of jail early.

Now it seems police go to school to help the people they’ve arrested look like better job candidates.

“The purpose of this presentation is to assist people who may have had youthful indiscretions or other issues resulting in arrests and convictions that inhibit obtaining gainful employment,” Snellville Police Chief Roy Whitehead said in a recent AJC.com story.

Does anyone else find it odd police want to make the charges they created disappear?

I called Snellville police for an explanation.

Lt. Tommy Taylor, who is organizing the Gwinnett High event, said “We put people in jail to protect the public, but we also try to help individuals to keep them out of the system.”

“We’re not trying [to clear the record of a] bank robber,” Taylor said, “but this could help someone who might have been charged with possession of marijuana 15 years ago. … It can help correct little indiscretions so they can get a job and become an upstanding citizen.”

The word “indiscretions” is making the rounds, but it’s a euphemism for “crimes.”

The process of cleaning up your criminal record varies by state, but in Georgia the convicted person usually has to get the approval of the agency that prosecuted them. If approved, records kept at the Georgia Bureau of Investigations are “restricted” so background checks by most employers do not show the conviction.

Searches by law enforcement always show a full criminal history, said Taylor.

Helping the formerly incarcerated find employment is quite trendy.

In 2014, the City of Atlanta adopted a “Ban the Box” policy that removed the “have you been convicted” checkbox from city job applications. In 2015, Gov. Nathan Deal approved a similar policy. Twenty-six states and more than 150 cities and counties have now adopted such a measure.

“Ban the Box” has a ring to it, but until the “Ban the Job Interview” movement happens the feared question still gets asked.

I’m all for helping folks out. I agree that a misdemeanor offense shouldn’t stop someone from getting a job, much less an interview.

But, if I was an employer or a law-abiding person looking for work, I’d wonder why my tax dollars are being used against me.


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