Thursday, March 23, 2017
Do gooder laws not helping ex-cons in Massachusetts
Blacks are a large part of the ex-con population so now that employers cannot check a person's criminal background, they tend to make worst case assumptions about blacks. Suppressing criminal records has hurt, not helped blacks
When Massachusetts enacted a series of changes beginning in 2010 to help ex-offenders get back into the labor force, the timing seemed fortuitous: the economy was growing again after the recession, and it was widely hoped people with criminal records would find work more easily.
Instead, in the years after the changes, the employment rate of ex-offenders went down, compared with those without records, according to a study released Tuesday by the Federal Reserve Bank of Boston.
The first change to the Criminal Offender Record Information system, or CORI as it is known, in 2010 forbid employers from asking applicants about their criminal backgrounds. Employers could still conduct background checks later in the process, but that little box prospective hires checked if they have a criminal record was dropped from job applications, a move known as “ban the box.”
Yet within the first two years of that change, the average employment rate of people with a criminal record dropped by 2.6 percentage points, compared with the employment rate of people without one.
“Clearly, the ban the box provision has not resulted in the policy outcome anticipated,” the study authors said.
Then in 2012, the state shaved five years off the time period an offender had to wait before getting his criminal record sealed so it is not subject to a background check — to 10 years after a felony conviction, and five years after a misdemeanor. Again, after those changes, the Fed analysts found no improvement in the job rate among ex-offenders.
There was one bright spot: Recidivism among ex-offenders, the rate at which they committed another crime, went down slightly after the changes to the records law. The Boston Fed analysts believe ex-offenders were more likely to stay out of trouble because they had higher expectations of getting a job.
“They know that at least they’d be able to get their foot in the door,” said Robert Triest, director of the Fed’s New England Public Policy Center, which conducted the study. “And so spending their time searching for a job might seem more fruitful than falling back on criminal behavior.”
As for their actual employment prospects, Triest and his colleagues aren’t sure why that hasn’t improved, but have several possible explanations: One is that with their criminal records no longer hanging over them, ex-offenders are pursuing better, but harder-to-get jobs, and turning down lower-paying opportunities they might have settled for in the past.
Conversely, the authors theorize employers are either hiring fewer ex-offenders, or requiring more work experience or education than in the past.
There are more people with records — 1.7 million in Massachusetts in 2014, up from 1.1 million in 2010, according to the Justice Department. And the FBI has been conducting more background checks on behalf of employers and others: roughly 17 million nationwide in 2012, six times the number a decade earlier, according to the National Employment Law Project, a worker advocacy group in New York.
Differences in the tightening labor market were factored into the study, the authors said, as were other employment trends. And still the employment rates of ex-offenders took a hit.
The changes to the records law may have also increased the competition among ex-offenders for jobs, as more sought work, said Pauline Quirion, director of the CORI and Re-entry Project at Greater Boston Legal Services. This influx of applicants, many of whom were likely weeded out later by background checks, could be affecting the employment rate, she said.
The first change in the law, to job applications, went into effect just as employers started hiring again after the recession, she noted, which meant ex-offenders were competing with large numbers of unemployed people without records. “The reality is employers don’t like to hire anybody with a record,” Quirion said.
The new Fed study is in line with a previous analysis of the “ban the box” law by the Boston Foundation in 2012. That found ex-offenders were indeed getting more interviews, but those did not necessarily leading to jobs.
But in other states, similar changes to records laws have had a positive effect. In separate studies conducted in the District of Columbia and Durham County, North Carolina, the number of people with criminal backgrounds who found work increased after legislative changes.
So far 25 states, Washington, and more than 150 cities and counties have enacted policies to limit or delay employers’ access to candidates’ criminal histories. Nine states now don’t allow private employers to ask about a person’s convictions on job applications.
However, several other recent academic studies have found evidence that “ban the box” policies are hurting black applicants. Without the ability to see a candidate’s criminal history on a job application, employers are less likely to call back black applicants, according to the studies, suggesting employers assume these applicants are more likely to have a criminal record.
The Fed authors and advocates say more changes are needed to reintegrate ex-offenders into society. The wait times to seal records are still too long, said Lew Finfer of Jobs Not Jails, a coalition lobbying to cut the time to three years for misdemeanors, and seven for felonies.
The coalition also wants dismissed cases dropped from the CORI system, and charges for resisting arrest, which currently stays on a person’s record forever, to eventually be sealed.
Massachusetts changes have been limited, Finfer said, so it’s not surprising there hasn’t been much impact. “CORI is this huge barrier to people getting jobs,” he said. “It’s almost like prison continued.”
Homofascists target IBM executive
Marriage equality advocate IBM Australia is being targeted by militant gay rights activists who have condemned the company over a senior executive’s links to a Christian organisation.
Activists have criticised the IT giant and Sydney-based managing partner Mark Allaby, suggesting that his role on the board of the Lachlan Macquarie Institute, an internship program for young Christians, is incompatible with IBM’s public support on the issue.
The social media campaign comes after the same activists shamed Adelaide brewer Coopers into pledging allegiance to Australian Marriage Equality after its ties with the Bible Society were exposed.
Michael Barnett, convener of Jewish LGBTI support group Aleph Melbourne, and Rod Swift, a Greens candidate in the 2014 state election, have targeted IBM with a barrage of messages via Twitter in recent days, accusing the company of hypocrisy for allowing an employee to be involved with “an anti-LGBTI organisation”.
“A bad look … that IBM managing partner Mark Allaby sits on the anti-LGBT Lachlan Macquarie Institute board,” Mr Barnett posted on Thursday.
The next day he followed with: “As an LGBT champion @IBMAustralia, why did you employ a board member of a high-profile anti-LGBT organisation.”
Mr Swift pitched in, calling on IBM to explain whether it would “request this guy to step down” from the institute.
“If you are having a bet each way @IBMDiversityANZ then you must justify to your staff and customers why your guy is on their board,” he wrote.
It is not the first time Mr Allaby, a fellow of the Australian Institute of Company Directors who handles IBM’s financial services clients across Australia and New Zealand, has been targeted for his association with a religious organisation.
Last year, when employed by PricewaterhouseCoopers, he was pressured into standing down from the board of the Australian Christian Lobby, which opposes changes to marriage law.
Both PwC and IBM are active supporters of Australian Marriage Equality, and their chief executives were among 20 corporate leaders to sign an unprecedented letter lobbying Malcolm Turnbull to legalise same-sex marriage, revealed in The Australian last week.
The letter has sparked heated debate about the role of business in lobbying on social issues, with conservative frontbencher Peter Dutton telling business leaders to “stick to their knitting”.
However, the increasingly aggressive tactics being employed by some marriage equality activists has highlighted the risks for corporations — and their employees — in taking a position on divisive political causes.
Leading anti-discrimination lawyer Mark Fowler said employees with religious beliefs in conflict with their employers’ stand on marriage equality were particularly exposed. “In NSW and SA there are currently no laws protecting individuals from expressing their religious beliefs,” Mr Fowler said. “Nor are there religious protections for individuals under commonwealth laws.”
Australian Christian Lobby managing director Lyle Shelton said the ACL, which helped set up the Lachlan Macquarie Institute, denied that the organisation was “anti-LGBTI”.
“Quite frankly we are tired of this slur being used to intimidate people because of their beliefs,” Mr Shelton said. “Corporate Australia is obviously free to have and express views on political matters.
“Sadly, same-sex marriage activists are intolerant of different views and have co-opted some in the corporate sector to assist them in enforcing this to the point where people fear for their jobs.
“All Australians, including corporate Australia, should openly and forcefully condemn every instance of bullying and intimidation.”
Mr Barnett defended his role yesterday, arguing that when an organisation such as IBM employed an individual in a high-profile leadership role who did not espouse company values, a disparity emerged. “I have no desire to see IBM sack Mark Allaby. I want the conflict to go away,” Mr Barnett told The Australian.
“Mark Allaby can make whatever decisions he needs to resolve this conflict, and if IBM needs to assist with that process then they can do that. “My goal is to see IBM, and any other pro-LGBTIQ organisation, remain strong to their stated values.”
Mr Barnett said he had nothing against Mr Allaby personally but his links with the Australian Christian Lobby meant he was a “target for equality campaigners like me”.
IBM did not respond to questions about whether staff were free to engage with external organisations, including religious groups, outside of their employment with the company. “We will not be responding on this,” an IBM spokeswoman said.
Mr Allaby, who lives in Sydney, did not return calls.
UK: Courts must protect men as well as women
The justice secretary’s plan to allow rape accusers to give video-recorded evidence does a disservice to feminists
Last weekend I was driving down the M40 discussing feminism with my 14-year-old daughter and why women are equal, if not superior, to men. It was all very relaxed without her three brothers. She was talking about a debate she had seen on gender equality with the Labour MP Jess Phillips and the women’s march against President Trump.
Suddenly the car ground to a halt in the slow lane with no hard shoulder. Lorries had to swerve around us, we couldn’t move. I rang the AA who explained we had to leave the car and call the police.
Two officers arrived promptly and I explained rather pathetically that I don’t drive often, I hadn’t quite worked out the automatic dashboard and the car might conceivably have run out of petrol.
The officers couldn’t have been more helpful; they towed us to the nearest garage, filled the car with fuel and sent us on our way. “They were very chivalrous,” I said. “That was humiliating,” my daughter replied. “You may have a career but you sounded like a useless woman who can’t do anything on her own.”
That’s the problem with sexual politics: it’s never straightforward. Emma Watson insists that Beauty and the Beast is a feminist movie because her character, Belle, has a job inventing a washing machine, but she then allows herself to swoon in the arms of the beast at the end — and to promote the film she bared her breasts for Vanity Fair.
Theresa May has become Britain’s second female prime minister yet still gave her first serious interview to American Vogue, where she says that she loves clothes and that Mr Trump held her hand down a ramp because “he was actually being a gentleman”.
Meanwhile Dame Jenni Murray, presenter of Woman’s Hour, said this month that “it takes more than a sex change and make-up” to “lay claim to womanhood”, making it sound as though female traits are always the opposite of male characteristics and the sexes share no common ground. This was while MPs were debating whether women could still be forced to wear heels at work. “What about men forced to wear ties?” one male MP asked.
The feminist discussion has become increasingly complex. How far should we be promoting women’s rights as distinct from men’s and what does equality look like?
The trickiest area is in the courts. Everyone has a right under British law to be treated equally, gender should not be an issue. This is why Liz Truss’s feminist intervention this weekend is more troubling than most. The justice secretary said that from this autumn rape “victims” would be spared cross-examination at the witness box and instead will be able to provide recorded video evidence.
Her sentiments are understandable. Women who have been raped must find it devastating facing their attacker in a courtroom and being quizzed about their ordeal. Ms Truss says she is “determined to make their path to justice swifter and less traumatic” so they can give “the best possible evidence” without having to undergo this ordeal.
Rape, domestic abuse and sexual offences now make up 19 per cent of the Crown Prosecution Service’s caseloads. The volume of rape referrals from the police rose to 6,855 in 2015-16, up 11 per cent on the previous year. Of those referred, 3,910 resulted in charges and 1,300 in convictions. However, only about 6 per cent of all reported cases result in a conviction for the perpetrator. It is important for women to have the confidence to pursue a rape case and to receive a fair trial.
But this change isn’t fair for men who may have been wrongly accused. Ms Truss calls all women who say they have been raped “victims”. But there are occasionally women who lie, for all sorts of complicated reasons. It is the wrongly charged man is these cases who is the victim.
Being falsely accused of rape can devastate a man’s life whether he is a student, a teacher, a politician or retired. The defendant will almost inevitably be vilified by some of his peers, his community and, if the case reaches the press, the country. Rape cases take on average 18 months to go through the courts; meanwhile the accused will find it difficult to get work or continue with normal family relationships.
When a jury at York crown court this month cleared Lewis Tappenden of raping a student in a drunken sexual encounter, he cried and explained his life had already been ruined. The woman told the court she was “OK with it” at first but changed her mind halfway through.
Elgan Varney, who was acquitted this week of raping a student while at Keele University, explained: “You are never allowed to move forward when the fact that you have been accused is one click away on Google.”
Women can already give evidence from behind a screen or by live link but juries need to be able to see the accuser’s face. Rape is such a serious offence they must feel confident they can weigh up whether a woman gave her consent to sex. The defendant should also be able to challenge any new evidence.
Ms Truss wants to allow judges to be able to edit evidence to exclude questions about previous sexual history but this would be treating the two parties unequally. It may also not help the accuser. Some jurors could feel reluctant to convict when they haven’t heard the complainant being examined in the court.
Not all men are beasts or women Belles; no one should be stereotyped. It doesn’t work in life and it’s even more unjust in the courts where everyone must have a right to a
Liberal boycott of North Carolina backfires
In April, the Center for American Progress estimated that the state of North Carolina would lose more than $567 million in private-sector economic activity through 2018 due to the passage of the Public Facilities Privacy & Security Act, otherwise known as the “bathroom bill.”
But indicators show that North Carolina’s economy is doing just fine:
Tourism has thrived: Hotel occupancy, room rates and demand for rooms set records in 2016, according to the year-end hotel lodging report issued last week by VisitNC, part of the Economic Development Partnership of North Carolina.
Meanwhile, North Carolina ranked fourth in the nation for attracting and expanding businesses with the arrival of 289 major projects, and seventh in projects per capita — the same as in 2015, according to Site Selection magazine, which released its 2016 rankings in the March edition.
North Carolina finished first for drawing corporate facilities in the eight-state South Atlantic region, said Site Selection, which uses figures tracked by the Conway Projects Database.
And in November, both Forbes and Site Selection magazine ranked North Carolina the No. 2 state for business climate.
Also unscathed was the state’s seasonally adjusted unemployment rate, which registered at 5.3 percent in January 2016 and 5.3 percent in January 2017, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics.
Ironically, those opposed to the bathroom bill are the ones hurting. The NBA moved its All-Star game from Charlotte to New Orleans in protest, and as a result suffered “the lowest ticket sales” in All-Star game history. Similarly, the ACC championship football game was moved to Orlando and attendance was the lowest in history.
Over and over again, liberal boycotts are failing. As this rate, business owners everywhere will start hoping that liberals complain about them.
Political correctness is most pervasive in universities and colleges but I rarely report the incidents concerned here as I have a separate blog for educational matters.
American "liberals" often deny being Leftists and say that they are very different from the Communist rulers of other countries. The only real difference, however, is how much power they have. In America, their power is limited by democracy. To see what they WOULD be like with more power, look at where they ARE already very powerful: in America's educational system -- particularly in the universities and colleges. They show there the same respect for free-speech and political diversity that Stalin did: None. So look to the colleges to see what the whole country would be like if "liberals" had their way. It would be a dictatorship.
For more postings from me, see TONGUE-TIED, GREENIE WATCH, EDUCATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL, AUSTRALIAN POLITICS and DISSECTING LEFTISM. My Home Pages are here or here or here. Email me (John Ray) here.