Ex-pris­on­ers should not be treated as sec­ond-class cit­i­zens

The Washington Post Sunday - - SUNDAY OPINION -

Re­gard­ing the July 21 Metro ar­ti­cle “Va. Repub­li­cans fight ef­fort to re­visit pa­role”:

While I fully sup­port ef­forts to re­visit pa­role reg­u­la­tions and oth­er­wise re­duce prison pop­u­la­tions, I fear just let­ting peo­ple out of prison early with­out chang­ing how we treat those with crim­i­nal records af­ter they are re­leased will only sen­tence of­fend­ers to lives as sec­ond-class cit­i­zens un­able to find the em­ploy­ment they need to be­come law-abid­ing mem­bers of so­ci­ety.

States such as Vir­ginia that ob­ject to “ban the box” laws and make it im­pos­si­ble to ex­punge even mis­de­meanor of­fenses from a crim­i­nal record should con­sider the life­long dis­crim­i­na­tion that of­fend­ers of­ten ex­pe­ri­ence, es­pe­cially while try­ing to find em­ploy­ment. Em­ploy­ers of­ten dis­miss an ap­pli­ca­tion as soon as they learn the ap­pli­cant has a crim­i­nal record with­out giv­ing the ap­pli­cant a se­ri­ous chance to con­vince the em­ployer that he or she is not a risk.

There is a grow­ing move­ment to en­act ban the-box laws, but there has been lit­tle ef­fort to re­form state laws gov­ern­ing the ex­pung­ing of of­fenses from a crim­i­nal record. Mak­ing it pos­si­ble for an oth­er­wise law-abid­ing citizen to ex­punge at least mis­de­meanor of­fenses af­ter five, seven or 10 years would sig­nif­i­cantly help some ex-pris­on­ers get a new start.

Richard G. Mur­ray, Washington

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