The Instigator
Pro (for)
3 Points
The Contender
Con (against)
6 Points

That Criminal Records Should Be Secret From Employers

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Post Voting Period
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after 2 votes the winner is...
Voting Style: Open Point System: 7 Point
Started: 11/13/2012 Category: Miscellaneous
Updated: 4 years ago Status: Post Voting Period
Viewed: 2,243 times Debate No: 27168
Debate Rounds (4)
Comments (5)
Votes (2)




Hi everyone, I haven"t been on the site much but I"m looking for a good debate on some serious issues!

1: Rules and acceptance
2: Arguments and rebuttal
3: Arguments and rebuttal
4: Rebuttal


The debate should run basically on Australs 3v3 rules, which means:

Evidence is weighted much less than logic and, especially, analysis.

A winner should be decided based on persuasiveness, as determined by a reasonably intelligent, but open and impartial observer who knows basic things about the world but is not able to check facts outside of the debate. In other words, unless something is considered by most as an obvious untruth (eg: Obama was born in Kenya; Heroin isn"t addictive etc.) it is up to the debaters to demonstrate why it is untrue.

No dumb tricks. Nobody is actually persuaded by someone who dodges the obvious intent of the debate by defining the clash out of it.


I"ll expand further in my first substantive round, but I will basically be arguing that potential employers will not have access to criminal histories, nor will they be allowed to ask about criminal history in a job interview.

I will be arguing that judges should be allowed to, for example, permanently ban people from working with children. It is my burden to show how that is morally consistent with the rest of my case.

This debate is set in the modern, western world. It occurs in places that have functioning judiciaries, welfare and economies.

I look forward to an interesting debate!


I will accept this debate as the con side and my role will be to show why criminal records should not be kept secret from employers.

I'm looking forward to a good debate.
Debate Round No. 1


I"d like to thank my opponent for accepting and look forward to the debate.

There is a problem in our society. Certain areas, and certain demographics, are entrenched in a cycle of crime and poverty that is destroying lives and communities. America imprisons more people than the Russia under communism, or South Africa under apartheid, and the continuing discrimination faced by people who were previously criminal forces them to remain in that poverty and in that life of crime.

I propose a clear solution.

Employers should have no access to record of past criminal convictions, and should not be allowed to ask about past convictions in interviews, similar to the way it is illegal to ask about sexuality in a job interview.

Judges, however, should be allowed to stipulate that a criminal should be banned from a particular career path, like being a CEO for someone who has committed fraud, or working with children for a paedophile. I will show that judges should be allowed to make that decision, while employers should not. I will also show that judges will be better at making that decision under my proposal.

Crime is an awful thing, but so is discrimination. I"m going to show two things. First, that employers do not have a legitimate right to hand out additional punishment to past criminals. Second, that my proposal aids in rehabilitating past criminals.

Employers do not have a right to punish people in this way.

Our society has determined that the nexus of punishment should be the courts, and there are very good reasons for that.

Firstly, judges are accountable to the state. This means that they are able to take rights from individuals (like employment or freedom) while the employer is not; because the judge is an agent of the state, and represents society.

Secondly, a judge is a trained professional, and is thus more able to determine what is in the best interest of society. An employer cannot be expected to understand the social impacts of their decision to systematically deny these people jobs.

Third, a judge has access to the whole story. When an employer looks at a criminal record, they simply reject that applicant. There is no discussion of mitigating circumstances or what lead to that particular crime. That means that people lose a potential job, regardless of whether that is actually what they deserve.

Fourth, judicial decisions will be better under my proposal. Judges, when trying to decide on an appropriate level of punishment, currently have to predict what will happen to that criminal out in society. Judges shouldn"t have weigh the irrational response of potential employers, especially when that employer will make their decision based on a popular conception of the risks associated with criminality. That conception is constantly changing and may have no relation to reality anyway. That leads judges to impose sentences that are different to what justice requires, because they are trying to compensate for that.

Furthermore, strict limits must be placed on when we allow employers to discriminate.

An employer"s perception of threat cannot be the test; we have anti-discrimination laws precisely because employers cannot be trusted to do that rationally. At a very minimum, that discrimination must be because of something directly related to the work they are doing. I"ve already said that judges can place restrictions if there is an actual threat, and judges with access to expert testimony are able to do that better then employers.

Moreover, employers can and should judge everyone"s trustworthiness and competence at the point of the job interview, because not all untrustworthy people have a criminal record. Irrationally trusting to a computer record that doesn"t give the full story and which has the stigma of criminality attached to it means employers are not fulfilling their duty in actually determining trustworthiness.

Criminals deserve to be punished but that punishment ought be appropriate to the crime. Judges can determine that, not employers.

My second argument, is on how this affects rehabilitation.

Rehabilitation is the most important aim of the criminal justice system. Firstly, given that criminals are going to be released, society has an interest in them not committing more crimes. Secondly, given the overwhelming statistical co-relation between poverty and criminality, it is often the entrenched policy caused by the governments own failures that cause that criminality, so the government has a moral duty to try and fix that problem.

Criminality isn"t usually an innate and inalienable part of someone, but is caused by a confluence of circumstances. To commit a crime, a person has to have need, opportunity, and an ability to rationalise the behaviour as "fair" or "just". My proposal helps with all three, and so makes recidivism less likely.

Firstly, on need. When people are systematically denied a job they are more likely to need to resort to criminal behaviour to provide for themselves and their family. In the most extreme cases they need shelter and food and are driven to crime to provide that. But even if welfare covers the basics, wealth is a part of social status in our society, so a job with the prospect of advancement, productivity and promotion is more likely to cover the need for that sort of status as well. Moreover, the systematic loss of dignity involved in being denied job after job after job drives people into gang culture in order to restore that dignity.

Secondly, on opportunity. When people are being systematically denied jobs because of a criminal record, those employers that are willing to overlook that record tend to have multiple ex-felons working for them, because there is virtually nowhere else they can get a job. This means two things, first, that the employer has a captive labour market and so can get away with never paying more than minimum wage, which speaks to their need. Secondly, it means those people are always exposed to other criminogenic elements, which provide them opportunity to commit more crimes. Every day at work, and in the slum neighbourhoods they are forced to live in, they meet people in gangs, people with access to drugs, people who can sell stolen goods, people who have certain criminal skill sets, who can crack safes, launder money, get guns, have a hideout, can make false IDs. When those people are all concentrated in one area it creates more opportunity for them to commit crimes, if they can get jobs wherever they want they are less likely to have that opportunity.

Thirdly, on the ability to rationalize the behaviour. When someone feels they are a part of an underclass that is systematically discriminated against then they are less likely to feel beholden to the laws of their society. Nearly 40% of African-Americans will have a criminal record by the end of their life. Part of the reason for that is the poverty forced on them by the discrimination of employers. Another part is that in certain areas that population feels like they are being shut out from society unjustly. This doesn"t just speak to preventing recidivism, but beginning to fix the systematic alienation of African-Americans also prevents the original crimes, because youths in those areas are better provided for by their parents, but also because they feel less alien as a whole from the society whose laws we wish them to obey. They will feel more like those laws are legitimate, they will feel more like society represents them when it makes those laws, and so will be more likely to obey them.

How can an employer be expected to know the harm they are doing to society when they deny a felon a job? They can"t. The state should intervene to protect people from recidivism and the creation of entrenched cycles of poverty and crime.

I proudly stand in proposition.


I thank my opponent for presenting his arguments and I will now start presenting my case.

My opponent opens the debate by stating that poverty and crime are problems, and they are indeed. However, I believe that is not a reason to keep criminal records secret from employers and I shall prove that. So, without further ado, I move on to analysing my opponent's case.

The solution proposed by my opponent is that judges be able to issue certain measures according to one's criminal record, but not employers, because he believes giving insight into criminal records to employers is punishment towards ex-felons. There is, however, a difference between punishment and qualification. I shall offer an example. If an employer decides to reject an application because the applicant hasn't fulfilled a condition, is it punishment? No, it isn't. The employer, as a qualified person in charge of a business, company etc., is simply saying: "No, sorry, you cannot work here, because I, as the employer, deem you unqualified." That is perfectly normal in the modern world, and it is the same with criminal records, where the employer should be given the chance to tell someone that he hasn't fulfilled the conditions set.

Then, my opponent spaks about how judges should be responsible for issuing measures because they are accountable to the state, trained professionals and know the whole story.
Judges are indeed accountable to the state and that is why they have power on state level to issue punishment for criminal deeds and one cannot dispute that. On the other hand, an employer runs a business, is responsible for that business and dependable on it, and thus he has the qualifications in a certain area to reject someone because he deems the person is unfit to work in his business/company. The point is that employers are trained as well as judges. Judges are trained to issue punishment and they do so. But when the punishment is issued and executed, and the felons reintegrated into society, they can again be rejected by any employer because of their history, because the employer is trained enough in his area (or definitely more trained in a certain area than a judge) to decide whether the criminal record will affect the performance of an applicant. As for access to the whole story, it would be a better solution to give employers insight into details, because they, as people responsible for a business and a certain number workers, should definitely have insight.

He also states judicial decisions will be better because judges won't have to compensate for employers' decions, but he didn't show how exactly do they compensate? Judges are there to issue punishment according to the law and they do so. A decision of a judge is based on solely on a criminal deed; a judge cannot predict what will happen to the felon in jail, let alone afer his punishment. A judge has no correlation with an employer. Whether the judge makes his decision according to the criminal deed or not is a question of the judge's skill, not the quality of the current system.

My opponent then mentions anti-discrimination laws, and labels decision-making based on one's criminal record discrimination as well. Anti-discrimination laws exist to prevent discrimination because of irrelevant things - for example, one's skin color. One's skin color does not affect one's peformance, but throughout history, employers were prejudiced towards people with a different skin color, so laws were enacted to prevent that.
On the other hand, one's criminal record and criminal history can indeed affect one's performance and it has been proven. Felonies are serious acts, and the employer must be allowed to pass judgement on whether or not that act performed in one's past is relevant or not, because the employer can best judge what effect will that have on his other employees, the business as a whole etc.

As stated in the aforementioned source, 57% of human resource professionals are worried about violence in the workplace and enact more background checks. Why do they do that? Because they are trained and have a huge knowledge of the area they specialize in, as well as how certain employee histories can affect the business.
Furthermore, no one disputes the importance of job interviews, but with access to criminal records, employers would be better informed. Judging by my opponent's logic, CVs are also unnecessary because they are simply records and don't show the whole story. That's right, they don't. But along with job interviews, they do - that is why we require both, and it's the same with criminal records.

My opponent's second argument concerns rehabilitation. My opponent states that it is important and that society has an interest in felons commiting no more crimes. That is true, of course. He also states that there is a link between crimies and poverty, which is also true.
But instead of denying important information from employers, more effort should be placed in counselling for ex-felons and in informing them of job opportunities, which are many. There are more than enough companies that employ ex-felons and one cannot claim that they are systematically denied jobs beuse of the sheer amount of opportunities.
Below is a list of companies that employ ex-felons in the USA, as well as a list of possibilities, to prove my statement that possibilities are plenty.

My opponent then speaks about opportunity (after speaking of need), to which I can but repeat the same I said in the last paragraph, for the answer is the same. As for minimal wage etc., that depends on the fairness of a certain employer, and not the system. An unfair employer will always be unfair, despite the system. The living standard he describes is bad indeed, but that comes into play only if there are no opportunities, and it has been proven there are plenty.

Finally, he spaks of discimination and underclasses. That is why the anti-discrimination laws he mentioned exist - to prevent discrimination based on irrelevant information. The poverty of underclasses is caused by the policies of a certain state etc. A state that respects its minorities does not allow that to happen, and thus underclasses are not forced to commit crimes. It has nothing to do with employers and access to records. We should indeed not discriminate based on one being a member of an underclass; a white man can be judged based on his criminal record, as well as a black man.

In the end, I must state that the employer has a huge responsibility and must be able to know everything. Should that ability be taken from him, his role as employer is minimized and the hierarchy of a business is damaged. That is why we should allow employers access to criminal records.

Since most of my points and argumentation have been given given during my rebuttal, I shall just shortly repeat it in one argument.

Responsibility and role of the employer

The employer has a role to judge job applicants and that is why he must be allowed access to all relevant information. He has a responsibility towards his employees and his business, which is why he must account for every possibility. A judge is not directly responsible for employees and so isn't fully qualified to make a decision. He is also not as skilled in a certain area as the employer. These are but some reasons why employers should be given the chance to make the decision based on all the information.

Felons have committed inappropriate acts and yes, they can be judged based on their acts. There is no discrimination in that. It is the same as any other relevant qualification. If one has failed in a task in the past, he will most likely not be given that task again. If one has failed in behaving accordingly, he can be judged, as well as punished.

My rebuttal has been given, back to my opponent.
Debate Round No. 2


I thank my opponent for his response.

I will be bringing new argumentation about protecting against violence in the work place, and about how we protect minorities from discrimination. This material will be integrated with my three areas of rebuttal.

The link between past crime and potential future crime and employment.

1: If there is a link then that speaks to the need for the state to focus on rehabilitation. My opponent doesn't solve the problem of these people re-offending in society. If employers have a need to protect themselves they do that best by not allowing the formation of a criminal underclass.

2: If that link is true and these people are always dangerous then why is my opponent supportive of these people getting a job at all? According to him they are dangerous and employers have a duty to protect their other employees and customers. But then he seems supportive of many companies not caring about the criminal record. If he is supportive of the idea that companies are not, and should not be, judging people by their record then the record is irrelevant so why not supress it?

3: Pandering to the idea of this link, whether or not it is true, has incredible harms to society. It creates a stigma and re-enforces it because people assume that if the government is allowing this form of discrimination when it bans all others it is because all ex-cons are dangerous and cannot be trusted. This causes society to treat them as dangerous, a self-fulfilling prophecy because it causes the entrenched alienation that causes them to re-offend. In my opponents own sources it states that the percentage of employers that discriminates in this way has doubled in the last 15 years. This problem is getting worse under the status quo.

4: The link between past crime and employment skills is dubious. It is unclear to me how someone arrested for possession of pot (which is a huge amount of the people we are talking about) is unfit to be an accountant or an insurance adjuster. When it is relevant a judge should decide, having employers decide it means they make decisions based on an irrelevant record. Otherwise it does not relate to the skillset required to actually do a job in the way past experience or a degree would. The comparison to a CV is further diss-analogus because CVs do not systematically entrench poverty and crime.

5: While the majority of arrests are for nonviolent crimes or crimes that occur outside the workplace, even in the case of violent crime it is better that the record be supressed because they are capable of reform and are more likely to do so under my system, thus protecting society.

6: 57% of employers are concerned about violence. That means 43% are not. Possibly this is because they feel that after having weeded out the ex-cons they have met the burden of protecting their other employees. They should be cautious of all employees. People other than ex-cons commit crimes too and employers should take precautions and have safety measures in place regardless of whether they hire ex-cons. They are less likely to do that if they feel they have met the burden of protecting their employees in whole or in part simply by weeding out the ex-cons.

Do employers have a right to protect themselves at societies cost?

1: They are not protecting themselves if they are creating a massive criminal underclass with sky high recidivism rates. Employers moving that crime around doesn"t change that people will be hurt by it.

2: That argument would never be accepted for any other form of discrimination. African-Americans are statistically more likely to commit certain crimes (because of the entrenched poverty that I am fixing). That does not mean that employers have a right to protect themselves from that greater risk by discriminating against African-Americans.

3: My opponent says it is OK because employers know what is relevant to the job. That assumes that all employers are perfectly rational and have access to perfect information. I said in r2 that their irrationality is the very basis of all anti-discrimination laws, and they cannot possibly be expected to know all the circumstances of the crime or that persons situation that might be relevant, because it can take a trial weeks to get to all that information, you can give employers access to it but they won't bother looking through it.

4: By living in a society we recognise that occasionally social needs trump those of individuals. We recognise that the social need for equality between genders, religions and ethnicities trumps the individual desires of employers, and does so whether they are rational or not. Firstly because moving ex-cons on does not solve the problem of them re-offending, so does not actually protect anyone. Secondly, with employment being so important for rehabilitation it is only employers who are in a position to help, so the duty falls to them. Thirdly, employers think they gain competitive advantage by not hiring ex-cons, so government must step in to cost the externality for them. That externality is the social cost of a massive criminal underclass and the best way to deal with that is by legislating to prevent its formation.

5: The status quo harms the full functioning of the judicial system. Judges do and should think about how society will react to a decision because they should rule based on the full consequences of that ruling. But when employers make unpredictable, harsher punishment after a jail term has ended judges are likely to make decisions that are less severe and less just then they ought to be.

On poverty and recidivism.

1: My opponent conceded the link between poverty and crime, so his rebuttal was somewhat confusing. He said that there are plenty of opportunities for past offenders, that no one is really out of a job. If that is the case then why is there that link? I was clear here, the lack of employment and social acceptance causes it, my opponent offers no explanation for the facts that he concedes.

2: Unfair employers can only be unfair if the system gives them a monopoly over a labour pool, because then those people have fewer other options.

3: A list of 140 employers out of the tens of millions of employers in the US doesn't impress. Further, the people who actually make the decision to hire are human and are subject to subconscious pressures like the stigma against ex-cons, regardless of policy.

4: He says that the entrenched poverty for certain ethnic groups can be fixed with appropriate legislation. Yes. This proposal is an example of appropriate legislation. He gave no other examples.

5: When ethnicity and crime are as correlated as they are in the US, allowing discrimination based on one allows discrimination based on the other by indirect means. Ethnic discrimination is an awful thing, and one that people deserve protection from. Allowing racist employers the ability to nearly halve the number of African-Americans or Hispanics they can hire based on the excuse of criminality not only allows the poverty of those communities, but entrenches that racism. Whether that is conscious or unconscious, each time it happens it gets re-enforced in society and in that individuals mind. People and communities deserve protection from that.

In conclusion I want to say two things.

First, my opponent thinks that employers should have all information and can decide whether it is relevant. Does he support employers asking about sexuality or religion? Or making decisions based on ethnicity or gender? Of course not, because we all recognise that they don't have a right to all information and that they often react to information based on irrational preferences, an irrationality the status quo is making worse.

Second, my opponent and the status quo offer no solution to recidivism. None. People are being hurt and the problem is getting worse and worse. Let's do something about it.


I thank my opponent for his response. I shall now offer my rebuttal point by point according to the points given by my opponent.

The link between past crime and potential future crime and unemployment

1. There is a link between crime and unemployment when, for example, a certain ethnic minority has an enormous unemployment rate so they commit crime to survive. Ex-criminals are not ethnic minorities. They are not discriminated. They will have job opporunities, no one denies that, and I do not oppose the idea of them being hired. The only thing I propose is that employers have insight into their record to be able to take all precautions and pass correct when reviewing applications.

2. My opponent seems to have misunderstood my round 2 rebuttal, since he asks why am I supportive of ex-criminals getting a job. I must point out I never opposed them getting a job. I never even said they are always dangerous. The point I tried to prove is that the employer's opinion matters most when hiring and that he should be able to give his opinion according to all the available information when hiring. I never said I support companies not caring abou the record. Whether or not a company/employer chooses to hire an ex-criminal is their decision. What we must ensure is that the decision is made upon all the available information.

3. My opponent speaks of discrmination and a certain stigma, but he hasn't explained how exactly that is discrimination. Ex-criminals are simply judged by relevant information during the process of getting a job (for example, time served in jail can leave "marks" on peple, and the employer must be able to know that the applicant served time in jail so he can determine whether or not those marks can have an effect on the applicant should he be employed), just as they are judged by their education, past experience etc. There is a difference between being judged by past actions, or being judged because you were born with another skin color. I do not support stigmatization of ex-criminals. My point is only that due care should be taken while reintegrating them into society.

4. Past criminal actions do not affect employment skills per se, but they may affect performance in a certain branch more than in another branch; not because of the skills required, but because of the environment etc. We are talking about certain consequences of past actions that could have an effect on ex-criminals, and that is why employers hld have insight into crimina lrecords. The comparison to a CV was made to prove how judging on relevant information is important, while I've already addressed the problem of poverty and crime.

5. People are capable of reform, but we can't just take that possibility for granted. Precautions must always be taken, because one single case is enough to endager many lives.

6. No one disputes the need for security measures, regardless of whether one employs ex-cons or not. It is the responsibility of every employer to devise and apply security measures for all possible situations; which involves ex-cons as well. Once again, that is a legitimate reason to allow employers insight into criminal records. Perhaps a bad employer would feel complacent, but then again, such an employer would apply no security measures whatsoever.

Do employers have a right to protect themselves at society's cost?

1. I have already addressed that problem in the first part of my rebuttal. Ex-felons will not get universally rejected just because someone looked into their criminal record. That insight simply allows potential employers to be 100% sure of their decision, and even help ex-felons with reintegration should they be employed.

2. The link between high crime rates and the African-Amerin population is a complicated one, but once again, there is a difference between discrimination and judging on relevant information. This debate is about a simple insight into criminal records, not about discrimionation of ethnic minorities.

3. My opponent bases his rebuttal on the simple insinuation that employers are careless and won't even look through the full story even if it is given to them. Such employers do not last long and they are not relevant. A good employer will look into the record just as he looks into any other information and think well before deciding. It is in his interest that the company prospers; he does not just sit there, make decisions from the top of his head and collect money. Furthermore, employers also have advisors to help make a decision.

4. For the upteenth time, discrimination based on ethnicity, religion and gender is irrelevant to this debate. We are not talking about discrimination here. As for moving on ex-cons, I have already addressed that probm in previous points. Furthermore, I agree that employers must help with reintegration. Do you not agree they would better help an ex-con if they knew what he went through and gave guidance? Many employers would be willing to do that, and since they have a responsibility towards every single employee, they must have information about every single employee. If they do, only then they can help. Finally, I do not see an advantage in not hiring ex-cons, especially when work force is very much appreciated.

5. Judges have no connection to future employment. They do not know whether the ex-con will seek employment after jail, or where he will seek it. Such assumptions are too far-fetched and one cannot make decisions based on predictions. An employer, aware of the current situation, is much better suited to making a decision. The problem of rash decisions has already been addressed.

On poverty and recidivism

1. This has been adressed multiple times during my round 3 rebuttal.

2. All true. But unfair employers are unfair towards everyone. Not just ex-felons. Why they are unfair is irrelevant, the point is that when an employer is unfair, he is generally unfair. Thus, this bears no direct connection to the problem.

3. The list offered was a list of the most prominent employers. Not of all the employers. I apologise if I had not made that clear enough. The problem of stigmatization has already, I repeat, been addressed during this rebuttal.

4. Yes. It can. There is just one little problem: we are not talking about ethnic minorities.

5. We are not talking about ethnic minorities and racism. We are talking about ex-cons, and ex-cons in general. Each application should be treated individually. No one is going to say: "Oh look, he's black. He must be a criminal. Let's not hire him." And whoever does say that would have said it regardless of a criminal record.

As for my opponent's conclusion:

Of course I do not support decisions based on sexuality, religion etc., because that information is irrelevant. Criminal records are relevant, as I have already stated.

Recidivism isn't only about employment. I have proven during this debate, especially in this rebuttal, that insight into criminal records won't negatively affect recidivism, and that is what my task was to prove in this rebuttal, among others. My task isn't to offer a full solution to recidivism.

In conclusion, throughout this rebuttal I have refuted my opponent's arguments and strenghtened my own, while my opponent has, up to now, based his argumentation on insinuations about how employers will be careless and on discrimination of ethnic minorities, which does not have anything to do with this debate at all. I have proved why employers should have insight into criminal records and I have shown how that may even help with reintegratin ex-felons.
All this shows why we must allow employers insight into criminal records.

Debate Round No. 3


I thank my opponent for his response and for the debate.

Do ex-cons have sufficient opportunity to prevent recidivism?

I have said from the start that the use of criminal records creates a culture of poverty and criminality. To support this I talked about the link between certain ethnicities which are locked in that cycle and their statistical correlation to crime. That correlation has been conceded. My opponent gives no reason why that correlation exists. If it isn't the fact that they are systematically denied jobs, then what is it? I would have loved an answer I could respond to.

Con says that there are plenty of opportunities for ex-cons.

I have spoken about how individuals have a bias against those with a criminal record. Even if that bias is purely rational, as my opponent believes, it still exists. My opponent gives a list of companies who will hire ex-cons. But the decision to hire or not is done by a human individual who is affected by that bias, consciously or not, regardless of the policy of their company. I said this in r3, no response.

Con gave a list of companies, but in his other source about the perception of danger from ex-cons there was material that 80% of companies now do background checks to weed out ex-cons.

This problem grows worse, that number is up by 16% since '96.

How does that affect opportunity?

I never said ex-cons were "universally" denied jobs, but that they were systematically denied jobs. In today's economy it takes several months to a year to find a new job. With 80% doing background checks, you have to multiply that number by five for anyone who is an ex-con. They have to go years without the steady income or dignity of a job. That is the loss of opportunity.

Cons increasingly obstinate refuse to acknowledge this reality disguises from no-one that being refused from one single job because of this, let alone being told that 80% of companies will refuse you regardless of skills or whether or not you are reformed, is a loss of opportunity that contributes to the social alienation that ex-cons face. That is what drives them back outside of legitimate society and causes them to re-offend, and entrenches the communal poverty which creates more criminals in the future.

Is this a legitimate form of discrimination?

Whenever someone is deciding something, for any reason, that is called discrimination. The question is whether or not it is legitimate discrimination, and with the social consequences so large the test for whether or not we allow this must be correspondingly high.

Con says that any references other forms of illegitimate discrimination is "irrelevant" for reasons he has left unexplained. All I am asking is for my opponent to clarify what he thinks the standard should be for when something is illegitimate discrimination. What is that test?

The test Con gave was whether it was relevant to their work. But what aspect of criminality is relevant? Two answers were given. 1: Their prison experience may have left a "mark". No explanation as to what that means and it could mean just about anything. 2: that ex-cons have a statistically higher likelihood of re-offending.

In other words, Cons test for whether something is legitimate grounds for discrimination is that that group has a statistical co-relation to committing crime.

I challenged that in round 3 by saying that some ethnicities also have that co-relation. Under my opponents test we should allow that form of discrimination, except that he also says we shouldn't. There was no response; Cons test is therefore not strict enough.

The test I proposed was that the discriminatory factor must be directly related to the skills needed to do the job. I also showed how criminality was not relevant for that, while CV's were. We had no response. This is therefore an illegitimate form of discrimination.

Moreover, in r3 I said how employers can disguise racist hiring policy as being on grounds of criminality. They can't do it for all African-Americans, but they can do it for many and that is a problem.

Empowering the employer's choice.

How would this information empower choice?

In r2 con linked this with danger. I explained how moving the danger around our society doesn't stop it, and that employers should take the same precautions against all employees. Con then dropped this in r3. He conceded that employers "must" aid in reintegration for ex-cons to society, a huge case shift from r2. He said that employers would do this better with access to this info by giving some form of counselling to ex-cons. He gave no explanation of how that mechanism would work or why. I would have loved to be able to respond to that material, but despite two rounds to put it out there it hasn't appeared.

Moreover, if employers "must" aid in reintegration, then it is hugely problematic that so many employers are doing these background checks and not hiring ex-cons.

So it is unclear how this information could positively empower the choices of their employer. It is also unclear why we would want to empower that choice when employers often make bad choices. In r3 I said that the very existence of anti-discrimination laws concedes that employers make bad choices and cannot be trusted on their own. There are two reasons why that is true here.

First, they do not have the resources to know the full story even if it is available to them. Con says that if they don"t examine the full record they would quickly go out of business. That assumes that their competition isn"t doing exactly the same thing. It also assumes that there isn't a large, waiting and willing labour pool ready to take on the job. Moreover, cases can involve mountains of evidence, and judges' decisions routinely run into the hundreds of pages. Whether you have advisors or not, having to go through that information for several dozen applicants is not the best use of a company's time. This is why job interviews last an hour, not the several days needed to hear someone"s full story.

Second, I have talked about the unconscious biases and stigmas people associate with a criminal record. That stigma goes far beyond any rational reaction to increased criminality, and my opponents own statistics on perceptions of violence in the work place bare me out on this again. Moreover, that stigma is based on the inflated recidivism rates of a system that is causing that recidivism. Let's break that cycle.

So who makes these choices better?

I"ve said from the start: Judges. Con says employers know their business best. Across 2 rounds we have not had a single example of this. Con has not been able to come up with a single instance of when the fact of someone's criminal past would affect their job skills in a way that a judge would be incapable of predicating. Nothing for me to respond to.

Con has conceded employer's duty "must" be to help reintegration, so this becomes about who best knows how to achieve that reintegration. I am curious as to where the average employer's expertise on criminology comes from. I have said right from the start, and it has been conceded, that Judges have greater expertise and accountability on these matters that employers cannot match.

Either employers have a right to protect themselves from danger, or they must be agents of the state for the purpose of reintegration. Which is it, why, and what changed your mind?

Either there are the same opportunities for ex-cons, or employers run background checks because they are concerned for their safety. Which is it and why?

Either employers always know best and can decide on whatever grounds they like, or they are sometimes irrational requiring intervention from the state. Which is it and why?

Either the correlation between poverty and ethnicity is caused by the cycle of criminality in those communities, or they all have access to jobs and it is some other factor that causes that link. Which is it and why?

Vote pro.


I thank my opponent for his response and for participating in this debate.
I shall now offer my closing statement and show why you should vote con in this debate.

In the opinion of the con side, this debate was lead around three main points.

a) On what grounds do employers have the right to gain insight into records and what will be the effect of that?
b) Is giving employers insight into records to be considered discrimination?
c) Does such a decision have a negative impact on recidivism?

I shall now analyze each of these questions and prove how the con side had managed to offer a better answer.

a) On what grounds do employers have the right to gain insight into records and what will be the effect of that?

The main clash about this question is the one between pro's point about how employers don't know the whole story and are not suited to making decisions based on the records; and con's point about how employers have direct responsibility for their employees and are best qualified for their area of business and can decide what is best, and can be informed if necessary.

In r2, pro attempts to explain how judges are better suited to making that decision to which con replies that it is not judges, but employers who should make the decision.
Why is that so?
A judge cannot know the impact of the employment of an ex-felon in two different areas while he, himself, is qualified in another area entirely. For that reason, judges today are entrusted with handing out punishments based on the crime committed, but their duty stops there, for a very good reason. When ex-felons are reintegrated into society, they are normal citizens and can be judged by their past acts. Now, the employer is the one who can say: "Yes, I see. You have committed action x, and I believe that will create an effect of y because of z", because he is the one who can determine the effect on a certain area best, having studied that area and specialized in it.
The debate continues in r3, with pro speaking about how the link between ex-crimes and skills is dubious, and how precautions must be taken regardless of whether or not one is an ex-felon, to which pro replies that it is nt simply skills we are talking about, but rather effects on other employees, the work environment, productivity etc. Those are very complicated matters, which once again leads to the conclusion that employers should have insight into criminal record As for precautions; yes, con agrees precautions must always be taken, but just as there is a precaution for cerain situations and people, there must also be a precaution for ex-felons, and that precaution can only be applied if employers actually know who they're dealing with. Even if they wish to hire an ex-felon and help with his reintegration, they should have insight to know who exactly they're helping, as con explained in r3.

In conclusion, con managed to win in the dispute about this question for a very simple reason; pro failed to explain how exactly judges are more qualified then employers and how can employers fulfill their direct responisibility towards all employs if they are not informed of them as individuals.

b) Is giving employers insight into records to be considered discrimination?

The dispute about this question was led around the clash between pro's point about how ex-felons are being discriminated, and con's point about how there is a difference between discrimination and realistic judgement.

Pro begins this dispute by attempting to explain how ex-felons are systematically denied jobs and made victims of prejudice, to which con replies that prejudice and discrimination are based on unreal factors or irrelevant information, after which this dispute dissolves into a confusing, foggy discussion about ethnic minorities and the crime rate in African-American communities.

Throughout the dispute, con manages to consistently prove how criminal records are relevant just like any other information that describes one's acts or attributes or whatever action committed because of those attributes. Discriminating someone because he was born black, which he didn't choose, is downright stupid. But judging someone by something that can be relevant, as shown, after all, by one of con's sources, is not discrimination.

As for the whole discussion about minorities and anti-discrimination laws; yes - discrimination is bad. Yes - anti-discrimination laws are good. But the point of this discussion remains irrelevant to the debate, thus that partf the dispute is unimpotant.

To conclude, in this dispute, con managed to get the upper hand by being consistent in showing how relevant information differs from irrelevant information, while pro was inconsistent and based his argumentation on irrelevant points, as stated in the paragraph above.

c) Does such a decision have a negative impact on recidivism?

This was, perhaps, the question most disputed about in this debate.
Pro attempted to prove that ex-felons will be denied jobs en masse and will resort to committing crime again, while con attempted to prove that there are many opportunities and they are not to be denied, only reasonably offered.

The dispute began when pro explained his position as said in the above paragraph, to which con replied with his position (again, as said in the above paragraph) and a source which proved his statement.
This discussion, however, cought fire in r3 when pro attempted to find a fallacy in con's case by stating that con conceded the link between poverty and crime and that con was being inconsistent with his argumentation about opportunity.
Con did, indeed, concede the link, in that people that live in poor communities are more likely to commit crime, and nothing more, as has been explicitly stated, and explained that ex-felons will not be members of such a community. It is not the goal of society to deny them opportunities, but one must first be able to analyze the situation before offering an opportunity. One cannot simply say: "Here, take this opportunity because I want to be a really good person.". Just as in all other situations, there must be an analysis. That does not mean systematical denial.

Pro also attempts to attack con in r3 by saying con doesn't offer a solution to recidivism. Con managed to prove there will be no negative impact on recidivism simply because we shall perform analysis; imagine if one is employed without prior analysis and then fired because he was badly affecting the work enviroment. Does that not, by pro's logic, also affect recidivism? Thus, pro hasn't managed to make a breakthrough with his argumentation on recidivism because he didn't show how and why exactly will there be systematical denial except that employers will be ignorant, which con refuted by stating that an ignorant employer is a bad employer, and good employers that wish to progress will not show such ignorance, and as we all know; only good employers can survive in today's world.

Con wishes to state it is not his task to offer a solution to recidivism, only to prove there is no negative impact, which he successfully accomplished.

After perusing these three questions, it is time to bring this interesting debate to an end.
In this debate, you, the voters, should vote con because con had a consistent line of argumentation, constanty expanding his arguments as well as supporting them with sources, whereas pro's arguments were simply based on insinuation and a scenario where employers are really, really bad, which is in no terms a convincing argument, and con made that clear throughout the debate.
Pro's arguments never reached a breakthrough and they didn't have the answer to the most important "why" at the end of this debate, while con repeatedly explained his reasoning, while at the same time pointing out that pro failed to do the same.

I thank my opponent for participating once again, I have enjoyed this debate.

Vote con!
Debate Round No. 4
5 comments have been posted on this debate. Showing 1 through 5 records.
Posted by qweerty650 4 years ago
Yeah, I just picked a number without really thinking or knowing what's appropriate. Oh we'll, the die is cast, as they say. How do you think the issues fell in the end, btw?
Posted by utahjoker 4 years ago
That is a long voting period
Posted by angrymen 4 years ago
Give a bank robber a job at a bank.
Posted by angrymen 4 years ago
Give a bank robber a job at a bank.
Posted by angrymen 4 years ago
Give a bank robber a job at a bank.
2 votes have been placed for this debate. Showing 1 through 2 records.
Vote Placed by Ron-Paul 4 years ago
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Total points awarded:03 
Reasons for voting decision: Pro seemed to commit the same S&G mistake over and over; an apostrophe is not a quotation mark ("). It is a single mark ('). For example, it's not employer"s, but employer's. Notice the single mark instead of quotation (or double mark). Con had a pretty good command of the English language. Thus, I give the S&G point to him. On sources, con was the only side to present sources, so I logically give them to con. Conduct was good on both sides, so no deductions. I might vote on arguments later; this is just a message to pro about things he needs to do for his next debate.
Vote Placed by utahjoker 4 years ago
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Total points awarded:33 
Reasons for voting decision: very even debate con had a slight edge when it came sources.