Don’t reduce people with criminal records to a list of the worst decisions of their lives, report advises
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
November 23, 2023
OTTAWA, ON – It’s time for governments to humanize criminal records to give people a better chance of finding a job after completing their sentence. That’s the key recommendation in the new Cardus report, Humanizing Criminal Records: Toward a View of the Whole Human Person. The report recognizes that holding down a job can help someone leave crime behind. Too often, having a criminal record makes finding a job all but impossible. Being unemployed, in turn, makes it more likely that someone will re-offend following release from prison.
While employers have a reasonable and justifiable desire to know if job applicants have a criminal record, they tend to give criminal records an outsized influence in their hiring decisions, says Renze Nauta, report author and Cardus Work and Economics Program Director. A well-rounded picture of an ex-offender may encourage employers to view a criminal record within a fuller context.
“At the very least, it would be a signal from government that people with criminal records cannot and should not be reduced to a list of the worst decisions of their lives,” Nauta writes.
With humanized criminal records, employers would have a chance to see another side of someone’s relationship with the criminal justice system. Humanized criminal records could include, with appropriate consent, someone’s history of:
- Good behaviour while in prison
- Cooperation with parole officers
- Receiving addiction treatment and spiritual care
- Completing work training or work placement programs
Nauta adds that employers and governments “should look upon those with experience in the criminal justice system as whole persons, not simply as ‘ex-criminals.’”
Humanizing Criminal Records: Toward a View of the Whole Human Person is freely available online.
Cardus – Director of Communications
Cardus – Imagination toward a thriving society
Cardus is a non-partisan think tank dedicated to clarifying and strengthening, through research and dialogue, the ways in which society’s institutions can work together for the common good.