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