An important question to ask yourself as a substance worker, and as a human being is: “Do I truly believe that an individual can be rehabilitated?” Imagine if a close friend or family member came to you with the news that they had become involved with a new love interest and while sharing details about this new relationship, it becomes apparent that this new partner had been to prison and is an ex-heroin user. How would you truly feel? What would your reaction be? What advice, if any, would you give to him/her?
In 1974, The Rehabilitation of Offenders Act was created. It enables some criminal convictions to be ignored after a period of rehabilitation has been completed. Its purpose is to ensure that relatively minor offenders do not retain a permanent blot on their records. In March, 2014, The Rehabilitation of Offenders Act introduced new legislation and adjusted various aspects of the of the original act; however, this still left offenders with multiple convictions (even 20+ years old) with tainted records that could hinder their chances of becoming gainfully employed.
How does this impact the employer who is looking to recruit staff? Are employers’ recruiting decisions influenced by personal opinions about candidates with previous convictions rather than who is best suited for the position?
Inspired by this article in the New York City Metro: New York City has officially ‘banned the box’ for job applicants, we would like to submit that it’s possible that the only fair and objective way to make a recruiting decision is if the candidates offending history is not known at the point of interview. New York is addressing employment discrimination head on with this new law, and it is out hope that the UK can follow suit. If we truly believe that rehabilitation is possible, and treatment unlocks the door for potential, this should be reflected in the positions occupied by ex-offenders in all areas of the workforce; including medical, legal and governmental professions.
We would love to hear your thoughts and experiences on this matter! Have you been denied a position you were qualified for because of ex-offenses? Have you, as an employer, seen beyond offenses to hire the perfect candidate? Please share your stories with Janus and include #resonancefactor in your posts.