I’ve often thought of the penal system as a circular loop. Basically, someone gets convicted of a crime, and then a potential employer gets to look at this person’s criminal record going back 7-10 years. Plus, very little is done to rehabilitate the person.
There are too many barriers to employment. Employers, in my humble opinion, should only ever be able to look into records that can effect someone’s ability to do the specific job they are applying for. Wal-mart should not be able to look into someone’s credit score, for example, but an employer of financial advisers, probably should. As far as crime goes, I think the same thing. If someone does drugs they shouldn’t be working where safety is important, like in construction, but there are jobs, where this is not an issue. Thus, it is none of the employer’s business, unless they are coming to work stoned out of their mind. Furthermore, no employer should be able to look back 7-10 years in someone’s record. No one is the same at 18 as they are at 25. I think around 2-3 years is more sensible.
Crime and Punishment:
I’m not against punishment. I actually think punishment can be a necessary part of rehabilitation. (There needs to be consequences for bad behavior. Otherwise, I’m not sure how people could have an incentive to change.) Still, we should be more focused on rehabilitation than we are now. Why keep locking up the same people over and over. What if there’s a chance to fix whatever gives them the tendency towards criminal behavior in the first place? It would be better for society, if we could rehabilitate. It seems to me less criminal activity is usually better, but of course, people need to want to change. Admittedly, getting people to want to change is problematic at best. It seems where I’m at (US) we simply prefer longer and longer sentences, hoping to deter crime, but it isn’t working. Plus, adding the employment barriers from the previous section, a circular loop is formed for many people. Someone commits crime x, and this person can’t get any job. They, then, end up committing crime y or working for an illegitimate job. A stable legitimate job would seem to me to be a big part of a criminal becoming an upstanding member of society.