Why Hiring a Former Criminal is Risky

Aren’t teachers, and those who work with children in general, supposed to have thorough background checks? Apparently, not all background checks for teachers are equal, and one teacher in Winston-Salem, NC, had prior felony charges dating back to 1985 and, recently, has been accused of sexual misconduct. Although not receiving a thorough background check in positions working with the disabled, elderly, and children, is nothing new, background checks for these types of positions as of recent have involved a more thorough search of a person’s past, including taking an individual’s fingerprints and matching them with those found in national criminal databases.

Some might say that this possible sex offender was hired because he knew someone, as many in the comments for the article seem to say. Although this could be a possibility, the other aspect is considering the job candidate’s history. If his charge was in 1985, theoretically, he wouldn’t have committed a crime in 24 years. Some might even say that, because he hasn’t committed a crime since then, he has changed his ways, especially as criminals shouldn’t be barred from all jobs and thus driven into a life of unemployment. But, if the position involves working with children, should this rule still apply?

Although the whole story behind why this individual was hired into a teaching position remains somewhat unclear, the fact is that allowing someone into a job working with children or the public remains a risk. Although a former criminal can and should be able to find employment, positions that involve working with children, the elderly, and the disabled should be open to individuals with cleaner backgrounds. A former criminal has many other options than these positions, and, although a former criminal may never commit another crime, hiring one into such a position remains a risk for all of those involved.