I’ve heard many harebrained ideas in my life and probably even have a few accredited to me, but last week I read an article in the Athens Banner-Herald that may rank at the very top of my list of absurd ideas.
Walter Jones, of Morris News Service, reported that a group of bipartisan Georgia Senators had formed a committee to decide if it would be a good idea to limit employer and the public’s right to know about criminal records. The committee is recommending slowly moving forward with making changes to better help criminals find jobs and housing.
Jones writes, “A Georgia Senate committee is recommending the state make it easier for ex-convicts to erase their criminal records and to block landlords, employers and the press from accessing arrest information. The recommendations include prohibiting companies from asking job candidates about convictions that have been legally wiped away and ending the release of mug shots and booking information.”
The committee held a number of hearings on the matter and heard from members of the legal and law enforcement professions and various government entities. However, groups the senators must not have been interested in hearing from includes employers, members of the media and the general public.
“Employers should be able to ask questions about convictions,” said Sarah Lamar, a member of the Society of Human Resource Managers and an attorney with the Savannah firm HunterMaclean. “They should be able to use their legitimate business decisions about who gets hired.”
Georgia Press Association’s legal counsel David Hudson also weighed in on the recommendations. “Of course we have other protections in this country, but the general notion of not allowing the public to know who is arrested, for what, and their identities through photographs would remove great safeguards for individual citizens, and for effective oversight on how police authorities and jailers perform their duties,” he said.
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