Employment

NYT Says We Should Ban Background Checks for Job Applicants. Why Not Ban Google, Too?

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"Sixty-five million Americans have criminal records that might cause them to be denied jobs, even for arrests or minor convictions that occurred in the distant past," writes The New York Times editorial board. The paper of record's proposed solution? Laws that prohibit employers from "inquiring into an applicant's criminal history until the person has been given an opportunity for an interview and a chance to prove his or her worth." 

Why stop at prohibiting formal background checks early in the application process? Why not also ban employers from reading local crimes stories? From using inmate locator websites, or Nexis? From simply Googling applicants' names? While the background check business continues to boom, it's no longer the only way to find out if an applicant has a criminal record. 

Don't get me wrong. Blanket discrimination against people with criminal records is pretty horrendous (and one of the collateral consequences of the drug war that both drug reform advocates and prison reformers are trying to change). But you can't eradicate the consequences of over-criminalization by turning judicious employers into criminals. The smarter answer is to have fewer crimes, and thus fewer criminals. 

A few months back, Stan Alcorn and WNYC ran a story on people who couldn't find work because of criminal convictions. Here's one job seeker's story:

Melissa was standing outside her welfare-to-work program in Downtown Brooklyn, about to go to a job interview. It was the same routine she has performed for six months, every day, Monday through Friday. She projected confidence about her abilities and her experience, but not about her chance of getting the job.

"I'm a people person, and I always ace every interview I go on," she said. "It's just my background that's holding me back."

When Melissa was 15 years old, an older man began manipulating her, ultimately becoming her pimp.

When she was 19, she was convicted for her third, and final, prostitution-related offense. For Melissa, who asked that WNYC not use her last name, that was a turning point. Six years later, she has her GED and years of work experience as a cashier and home health aide—jobs she took to support her younger brother and two-year-old daughter.

As she searches for a job in today's tough job climate, however, she is finding that job experience matters less to many employers than her three convictions.

Based on Melissa's case, it's worth asking which strategy makes more sense: Changing the law so that employers can't investigate whether an applicant has been arrested or convicted, or changing the laws so that women like Melissa aren't considered criminals in the first place? We should be asking the same question about people like James, a Florida man who was caught with a single Oxycontin pill for which he did not have a prescription. As a result of that single pill, here's what happened to him and his job: 

Despite having no criminal record and never having taken Oxycontin, James was required to attend two Narcotics Anonymous meetings a week for an entire year, and 15 weekend-long state-run drug classes (the latter he was required to pay for). Despite the fact that he was going to school at night for his MBA, James was given a curfew, and had to be inside his own home between the hours of 9 p.m. and 6 a.m. every day of the week, for the entire year. As a final punishment, the judge instructed James to immediately report his arrest to his employer, and to let his probation officer know when he had done so.

With his case settled, James returned to Jacksonville and told his boss at Merrill Lynch what happened. His supervisor told him not to worry. A week later, he was instructed to modify his broker's license to reflect that he'd pled no-contest to drug possession. This is both a federal and a state-level requirement, generally meant to protect investors. It ended up ruining James's career. The modification to his license triggered an internal warning at Merrill Lynch. The firm placed him on paid leave for two weeks, and then fired him.

Once James's probation officer found out he'd been let go, she required him to bring with him to their meetings a list of every job for which he'd applied since they last met. His probation officer then called each and every company's HR department to verify that James had actually applied.

A smart guy with a single blemish on his record, James nevertheless spent several years working as a short-order cook, as one financial sector employer after another rejected his application. The NYT has its heart in the right place, but their proposal is addressing this issue at the wrong end of the process. (That said, it's getting easier and easier to imagine a future in which so many Americans have been criminalized that a criminal record ceases to shock, dissuade, or disqualify.) 

NEXT: U.S. Knew Benghazi Was a Terrorist Attack From the Beginning, Says State Department Official

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  1. So background checks for jobs is a no no. But background checks for guns is a yes yes?

    Fuck you NYT.

    1. Exactly.

      What part of *Universal* Background Checks do you not understand?

    2. First thing I thought of when I read the headline.

    3. Yeah, they don’t seem so worried about the basic human rights of those 65 million ex-cons when it comes to self defense, do they?

  2. But if a business hires a person with a history of violence or racism and that employee then beats up a customer or calls someone the N word, the NYT is totally on board with holding that business liable in court for the actions of its employees.

    To the NYT, businesses serve two functions, provide jobs for their employees, and pay out lawsuit judgments to their customers.

    1. To the NYT, businesses other than the NYT serve two functions, provide jobs for their employees, and pay out lawsuit judgments to their customers.

    2. That’s the thing – one incentive to screen out convicts is to avoid liability for negligent hiring.

      LAWYER: So, Mr. Executive at Big Pocket Corporation, you’re saying that you hired this guy without even bothering to inquire about his background?

      EXECUTIVE: That’s right. We’re a big social-justice company, and the NY Times…

      LAWYER: So your commitment to social justice requires that you hire this convicted assaulter who proceeded to beat up a customer?

      EXECUTIVE: Well, we had no way of knowing-

      LAWYER: No way of knowing, or you chose to be wilfully ignorant?

      SOUND EFFECT OF CASH REGISTER: Cha-ching! Cha-ching!

      1. Replace “assaulter” with “drug user” and employers still worry about this scenario.

        “You hired this scary drug-user and he ended up doing something bad! You should have been aware of the risk!”

        1. Just imagine being a plaintiff’s attorney and your client was injured in an accident caused by some company’s truck that was driven by a guy with a drug conviction and had drugs in his system at the time of the wreck. Here comes your kid’s college fund.

          1. College fund? You mean your kid could buy a college? Because, as expensive as college is now, I don’t think it’s 7 figures (which is what the lawyer’s gon get).

  3. As a result of that single pill, here’s what happened to him and his job…

    I am stopping right there for now, because I’m afraid I might punch a hole in my monitor if I read what’s next.

    1. Radley Balko punched my nuts a long time ago with that story.

      Still pisses me off, especially the fucking cunt who maliciously calls every employer he applies to “let them know”.

  4. So bad character is now a protected class? Not to say that everyone convicted of a crime has that, since some things are bullshit crimes, but still.

    1. So bad character is now a protected class?

      If so, I finally stand a chance…

  5. ” The smarter answer is to have fewer crimes, and thus fewer criminals. ”

    And for those who have been stamped as criminals for petty drug crimes? That’s not really a solution for them now.

    1. In fact, you aren’t even really answering the same question.

    2. Expunge, expunge, expunge.

      1. Doesn’t clear everything, and doesn’t work on many background checks, so generally not worth the effort.

        Anything else?

        1. I’ve been trying to figure out whether the Legislature in FL can mandate pardons when they legalize pot or whether this would be a Constitutional issue. Pretty sure the voters of the state could amend the state constitution to require all persons convicted of the following crimes shall be pardoned when this amendment takes effect.

        2. Well, it amuses me that the proposed solution will create more criminals. Imagine how many employers would never even hear of the law and violate it.

      2. And what to do of the fact that all of those crimes have now been archived and are easily searchable via Google, etc?

        1. Riggs, we need a much better solution than that. I agree with you that the vast majority of those convictions are bullshit and the laws that led to them should be struck down. But we live in the present, where those laws still exist and the convictions persist. So, how about something realistic?

  6. just as Kenneth explained I’m taken by surprise that some people can earn $6362 in 1 month on the computer. did you see this webpage… http://www.up444.com

  7. So we should pass new laws because we have too many old ones…Brilliant!

    1. Apparently the only way to fix a stupid law is to make another stupid law.

      1. As the consequences of stupid laws beget more more consequence creating stupid laws, the effect becomes exponential.

        1. This effect is exacerbated by the fact that few legislators read the laws in the first place, ensuring their stupidity.

        2. Disagree. At some point, the rate of stupid law creation is bound by how fast law makers can create laws. These two terms are already close to equal.

  8. So the NYT, which cheered along the criminalization of American society now has a sad because the culture is paranoid and Puritanical in relation to said criminalization? Totally shocked, dude, totally.

    1. You mean 30 years of playing up every local crime story as being worthy of national attention and dreaming up a “crime epidemic” every few years that is going to end civilization might cause people to have a bad view of those convicted of crimes? Shocked I tell you. Shocked.

      1. Wait, the national media covers “local crime stories”?

        I feel misled!

        1. I know. For so long I thought missing white girls, local murder stories and stories about how some new synthetic drug is destroying the children were the most important national news stories there were. I think I may have been misled.

        2. To the NYT (and the NYC based media in general), EVERY NYC crime story is “National News”.

          A five alarm fire in the Bronx gets more “national” coverage than the total destruction of Phoenix by an asteroid.

          1. Nonsense – they would do a feature story about “former Phoenix resident in the Bronx reflects reflects on his former home.”

            Not to mention – “Women, minorities hardest hit by killer asteroid”

          2. The Arizona Republic might cover it, but space is limited as they’ve been quite busy recently with extremely histrionic pro-gun-control pieces on the frontpage and elsewhere.

        3. Well, not in Philadelphia. I think the crowd at the courthouse scares them off.

  9. Question for the lawyers in the group:

    I believe most US drug convictions (possession) are for violations of State, rather than Federal, laws.

    As I understand the US Presidential pardon power, the POTUS can only issue pardons for violations of federal law.

    Which would mean that, even if Gary Johnson were elected POTUS in 2016, he could not pardon most of those convicted for drug offences.

    Correct or incorrect?

    1. You are correct. The President cannot do shit about those in state prison. That is up to the governors.

      And BTW, Johnson was the governor of New Mexico. I have never seen his pardon record there. I would be curious to see how liberally he used it.

      1. I wonder just what the reaction would be if a governor came into office and just pardoned and/or commuted every conviction for drug possession?

        1. There would be a 3 AM SWAT raid on the Governor’s mansion. The governor, unfortunately, would make a ‘furtive gesture’.

        2. The police would go insane and there is a good chance one of his state police body guards would have an “accidental discharge” that tragically cut the governor’s life short.

        3. Traitors are subject to execution.

          1. Well, I guess I’d better not become governor because that is exactly what I’d do. ThenI’d tell the legislature to come up with a budget that is actually smaller than the last biennium and then go on vacation.

        4. At the very least the governor could forget about re-election campaign donations from the police and prison unions. He’d have to wait until he was a term limited lame duck. Also, said governor could kiss any aspirations for national office good-bye. And what John said.

      2. I tried a quick google for his pardon record and there isn’t much to it.

  10. Don’t worry, the EEOC is on the case!

    No, seriously.

    Anyway, I see a market opportunity in hiring high-skilled workers with simple possession records for below-market wages.

    1. My older brother is 55 years old and has had a stroke that he almost entirely recovered from. He is the classic guy who in this economy once out of work should remain so. Instead, he can’t go three weeks without a job offer. Why? Because he is a high skilled industrial maintenance tech.

      There is such an enormous mismatch of skills in this economy. We have taken so many young people and convinced them to waste four years in conventional college learning nothing, even in the age of Obama and the worst economy in 70 years, we can’t fill all of the skilled job positions.

      And any business that would turn down a skilled applicant because of a possession conviction deserves to grow broke.

      1. It all depends on the nature of the work. If the company does a lot of business with the government for example, they have to hire people that are in a position of “public trust” which excludes anyone who is dumb enough to admit to trying drugs, let alone having been busted.

        1. Yeah. Of course if they do a lot of business with the government, they are likely a shame company set up by some crony with the help of the transexual native American guy he knew in college and listed as a co-owner.

          1. I work in software development and have found it difficult to find a potential employer in my area that doesn’t have some form of government, anything from national defense to local to school districts, as one of its major customers.

            They all run extensive background checks.

      2. Between the ‘need’ for fluffy, useless degrees to do likes of admin work, and the anal background checks (I just went through a LexisNexis life-review for my latest gig), there is undoubtedly a huge pool of skilled folks who never show up in typical corporate tool’s database filter.

        Gotta be a huge labor opportunity for businesses out there, before it becomes essentially illegal to hire who you want.

  11. Just issue job cards and force the employer to hire. Employment is a right.

    1. It may come to that.

      Hopefully, after I am dead.

  12. The NYT should be happy with the probation officers etc. ruining these peoples’ lives – they’re Democrats, in a union, and I’m sure have social-sciences majors. Right up their left alley.

  13. so why doesn’t NYT hire these folks? Most searches for candidates revolve around finding reasons to rule folks OUT, not in. Companies don’t owe every applicant “an opportunity for an interview and a chance to prove his or her worth.”

    Give me a break. If all companies did that, all they would do is interview and give trial periods.

    1. Companies don’t owe every applicant “an opportunity for an interview and a chance to prove his or her worth.”

      I don’t know, war eagle. Sounds an awful lot like discrimination based on something.

      1. *wareagle*

  14. It seems to escape these deep thinkers at the NYT that the great majority of our social problems are the cultural results of our ever-expanding body of laws, which is born from the false premise that micro-control of society is the path to the better.

    Our legal system turns misdemeanors into de facto felonies and felonies into de facto life sentences and boggles over recidivism, social dislocation, etc.

    I boggle over the fact that you can stare at an obviously flawed ideology for the better part of two centuries and not realise something might be amiss with it’s underlying principles.

  15. Link to audio interview with Sgt. Custer in regards to why she shot Seth Adams. Good interview. Glad to see he was exonerated in all three investigations. The facts, the DNA, his statement etc. all point to a justified shooting.

    https://bit.ly/OzJjoU

    1. The unarmed guy who was killed on his own property and denied medical care, ensuring that he bled to death and couldn’t contradict his murderer’s story?

      Yeah. Good shoot. They all are, aren’t they?

      1. Nope. Some police shoots are bad. But this one is blatantly justified. The fact pattern, the DNA, the officer statement, and common sense, lead to that conclusion, which is why all 3 investigations came to that conclusion as well. I empathize with Adams’ family, as well as Sgt. Custer for having to make those shots, but the fault for the shooting lies entirely with Seth Adams.

        1. Considering that the only living witness is a professional liar, I’m not convinced.

          1. THat’s fine. I’m not CONVINCED it was justified either. I’m convinced that the totality of the circs establish it by a preponderance (at least) which is more than enough to justify the shooting. It’s POSSIBLE it was unjustified, but the logical conclusion is that it was justified.

            Either way, it’s an interesting and tragic case. The FDLE report as well as this interview certainly flesh out a lot of stuff that was up in the air when the case was first reported here.

            1. An armed trespasser shoots the property owner in the back then forcefully stops his family from giving aid while he bleeds to death.
              Oh, but wait! The trespasser works for the government! Nothing to see here! Move along!

              1. Awesome! The paramilitary apologist shows up again. Fuck you, Dunphy! Die in a fire, you fascist fucker. And take some of those fat bitches you’re constantly fucking with you. You’re a piece of shit.

    2. Shooting an unarmed man on his own property when he tells you to leave? Of course it’s justified, any non-cop would never be charged for doing the same.

      You’re just trolling now, aren’t you?

      1. No, I’m providing followup to an interesting story. I also provided links to the entire FDLE investigatory report of this obviously justified shooting.

        The FDLE report was enlightening, but so is this interview, all 40 minutes of it.

        I emphathize with Seth Adams’ family, but I also emphathize with Sgt. Custer for having to be put into the position where it was necessary to fire. The fault for the shooting lies entirely with Seth Adams. He made the poor and illegal decisions that resulted in his own death

        1. FDLE investigatory report of this obviously justified shooting.

          Obviously justified only if you believe Custer’s unsubstantiated story and his brethren in blue. And he would have no incentive to lie, would he?

          1. No. obviously justified if you look at the entirety of the facts, to include DNA evidence.

            1. You keep saying “facts” as though the killer’s story is not in dispute. Everything you claim to “know” about the “facts” are really just the killer’s story. And it’s not like there aren’t alternative explanations for the alleged DNA – like maybe Custer attacked Adams when Adams told him to get off his property, and Adams had to defend himself. I’m sure there are other plausible explanations as well.

              1. like maybe Custer attacked Adams when Adams told him to get off his property, and Adams had to defend himself.

                In my mind that is the most likely explanation. Property owner goes to investigate a trespasser who then claims to be a cop. Property owner tells trespasser he doesn’t care, so cop decides to beat the shit out of him. Property owner fights back, so cop kills him. The end.

                1. Yup, that’s the only plausible explanation.

                  Dunphy continues to leave out of his description of events the simple, primary, and UTTERLY DEFINITIVE fact that Custer was not entitled to be where he was.

                  It doesn’t matter if Adams was drunk.

                  It doesn’t matter if Adams was belligerent.

                  Every detail Dunphy wants to add to the story doesn’t matter.

                  If you are on my property and I drunkenly and belligerently approach you to expel you, fuck you, you have to back down and leave.

                  That’s your only option: shut up, swallow your pride, and get the fuck out.

                  Period.

                  It doesn’t matter who you are or what your job is.

                  I don’t have to be polite. I don’t have to listen to your reason for why you’re there. I sure as fuck don’t have to meekly change my mind because you say, “Hey, I’m a cop, buddy”. Fuck you, leave.

                  There is no other plausible sequence of events other than “Adams tells Custer to leave, Custer is indignant because being a cop means he gets to go anywhere he wants, confrontation starts, Custer shoots Adams”. Sorry.

                  And even the self-serving statement Custer gives serves to reinforce me in this belief.

                  1. Well, Fluffy, I believe the Supreme Nazgul have ruled that when the cops are doing something illegal on your property, that you must submit and obey anyway.

                    Take it up in civil court later if you can afford it.

                    1. Don’t forget “and if you’re still alive to contest it”.

                    2. Dunphy will always side with the cop. Don’t you fools understand that? A cop could shoot an unarmed, handcuffed suspect in the back of the head in front of hundreds of witnesses and a video camera, and Dunphy would defend him. Thin blue line indeed.

        2. The fault for the shooting lies entirely with Seth Adams. He made the poor and illegal decisions that resulted in his own death

          And you know this for a fact, even though we only have the word of the killer to go on? You are trolling.

          1. No, we have the DNA evidence, the fact pattern, the blood spatter, etc. to go on.

            And yes, like it or not the word of the “killer” is going to be given the benefit of the doubt, as it should be. He didn’t go to work that evening intending to kill anybody. Seth Adams got himself drunked up and assaulted Sgt. Custer, then disobeyed arrest order and lawful order NOT to return to the vehicle.

            I had to tackle a violent suspect about 6 months ago in nearly similar situation and yes once I tackled her and brought her to the ground (she was returning to the vehicle to reach into it as I tackled her), there was a 6 inch steak knife sitting on the seat (which is what she was clearly reaching for).

            It’s a common fact pattern – violent suspect returning to car for a weapon. Ofc. has every right to order them not to do so, and many ofc’s have been shot by suspects who have done so.

            Adams was given the order and refused to comply and sealed his fate

            1. Adams was given the order and refused to comply and sealed his fate

              Translation: any peasant who refuses to obey one of the king’s men is subject to death.

            2. When the sheriff releases ALL details – every last name, date, etc. – of the supposed “undercover” investigation Custer was engaged in, we can talk about what Custer “went to work that night” to do.

              Everything I’ve seen indicates that Custer parked in the lot to dick off.

              Naturally, it’s SO IMPORTANT that petty jackbooted thugs be entitled to DICK OFF anywhere they want that it trumps all property rights. So naturally deputies should be allowed to shoot anyone who disturbs them while they’re dicking off on private property.

              1. Naturally, it’s SO IMPORTANT that petty jackbooted thugs be entitled to DICK OFF anywhere they want that it trumps all property rights.

                On my drive home there are a couple nice shady spots where I’ve noticed a state trooper parked fairly regularly. I’m thinking he’s not there to get speeders because he’s head-back sound asleep.

            3. No, he didn’t have every right to order Adams to stop.

              Since he was trespassing, Adams had the right to return to his car, EVEN IF he was returning to the car to get a weapon.

              I’m entitled to get a weapon to shoot an armed trespasser who refuses to leave my property.

            4. “He didn’t go to work that evening intending to kill anybody.”

              Not intending, just hoping.

              1. That’s pretty much the only reason anyone goes into police work, right? Oh, and in Dunphy’s case, to fuck all those groupies…

      2. You’re just trolling now, aren’t you?

        Shocked face.

    3. Is there a recording of the confrontation? If not, I don’t buy it. Of course you are going to make statements that make the shooting sound justified if the alternative is a murder charge. Fuck that. He wasn’t armed when he was shot. How is the shoot justified if the cop didn’t see a weapon that could be used at the range at which he was shot?

      1. After Sgt. Custer was violently attacked (grabbed by the neck as DNA evidence confirms his claim), he told Adams he was under arrest and made numerous orders NOT to enter/return to the car. Adams ignored those orders and did so anyway. Custer made a reasonable assumption based on training and experience and knowledge of prior shootings of police officers (I am privy to same as a firearm instructor and there are MANY examples of such shootings of police officers) that Adams, who was already known to be under the influence of alcohol and violent (grabbing the ofc’s neck) was reaching for a weapon. Based on the totality of the circs, and as the FDLE etc. report explain, he did NOT have to wait for Adams to spin around with a weapon. He made a reasonable perception and it was ADAMs who had the burden to obey the order not to reach into the car (bright line case law), and that perception was that Adams was reaching for a weapon and had armed himself and he acted accordingly.

        The relevant fact is not (under case law) whether Adams had armed himself.The relevant issue is would a reasonable and prudent officer based on the facts and circumstances presented to him in totality, believe that Adams had armed himself. The answer is: yes.

        Adams sealed his own fate. He could have complied with the orders and he’d still be alive. He made the decision to attack Sgt. Custer. He made the decision to return to his car and reach into it, contrary to numerous orders not to.

        1. Facts: Shot in the back, while getting into his car, on his own property.

          JUSTIFIED!

          And Custer had no business being on Adams’ property in the first place.

          1. The shooting is clearly justified by the totality of the circs.

            When he was told he was under arrest he had a duty to comply and when he was told not to enter his vehicle he had a similar duty. He sealed his own fate. Sgt. Custer was under no obvligation to wait to see what Adams was reaching for and it would have been poor tactics for him to do so. He did the right thing, the necessary thing, as tragic as the consequences were.

            Adams could have complied, but he chose to seal his fate. Not surprising . Alcohol impairs judgment and people make some very dumb decisions they wouldn’t otherwise make. It’s no surprise that those shot by ofc.’s overwhelmingly have commonalities in their profile and intoxication is a huge commonality in a lot of shootings.

            Either way, Seth Adams made the choices that sealed his fate. The fault lies entirely on his shoulders

            1. Seth Adams made the choices that sealed his fate.

              Telling some asshole to get off your property when he had no reason to be there seals your fate in death, if the asshole has a badge. It’s not like we didn’t already know that’s how cops think.

              1. Contempt of cop is a capital offense.

            2. You are conveniently removing from the totality of the circumstances the facy that Custer was trespassing.

              If we treated his account of the events the same way we would treat a burglar’s, is it still a good shoot?

              1. If we treated his account of the events the same way we would treat a burglar’s, is it still a good shoot?

                Only if the burglar has a badge.

          2. Here’s my guess at what happened…

            Undercover cop is snooping around Adams property. Adams thinks it’s an intruder, tells him to GTFO which enrages the cop, who shouts back at him, escalating it until they fight. Cop starts losing the fight, and only THEN identifies himself. Adams freaks out now that he knows he was fighting with a cop and runs for his car. Cop shoots him on the back because he’s embarrassed he got his ass kicked.

            1. I would say that’s probably a pretty good guess. Despite what Dunphy would like to insist are “facts”.

    4. Dunphy, for the sake of argument, I’ll treat Seth Adams’ killing as a “good shoot”.

      I’d like to know, however, what justifies denying him medical attention?

      1. I’m not saying anything justifies that. The facts are somewhat unclear. I’ve seen DIFFERING accounts on the time frame. Hopefully, THOSE facts will get fleshed out in the civil trial that Seth Adams’ family/lawyer are filing. One account shows that almost immediately (once found – remember he crawled 283 ft away from the scene iirc before he dropped. He was not immediately visible to custer after the shooting) ONCE FOUND , a responding deputy removed his own shirt and applied it to Seth Adams to try to prevent him from bleeding out.

        Either way, IF he was denied medical attention, and those facts are in dispute, that should be adjudicated in civil trial and dealt with.

        1. Why wouldn’t our hero cop have rendered first aid?

          1. Because Adams might have survived to contradict the official story. Duh!

          2. Our hero cop retreated to cover behind his vehicle and waited for backup which is the proper response. He didn’t know if Adams was armed, and he didn’t even know if any of his bullets had hit adams. He did the right thing.

            1. Were the backup cops supposed to block the ambulance with their squad cars? Is that the right thing?

            2. So you shoot someone, who you have no evidence is armed, then you shelter behind your car and let the guy crawl away rather than trying to give medical assistance? That sounds like it should be manslaughter, even assuming the shoot was justified. Fuck that hero shit. Even assuming it was technically a good shoot, it was no heroism. Hiding behind your car after shooting someone who you thought maybe was going to get a weapon from his car is in no way heroic.

              And if the cop was not in uniform (articles I read say he was undercover), it is completely unreasonable to expect him to obey orders. Anyone can say they are a cop. If the training says that cops can shoot people for disobeying a cop who is not in uniform and displaying a badge, then the training is wrong, period. If you are trying to disguise the fact that you are a cop, you don’t get to have it both ways and expect people to immediately believe you and act appropriately when you tell them that you are. Fuck that. You signed up for the dangerous job, not the drunk guy checking on his business because some guy is loitering there.

      2. For sake of argument, the facts in the Seth Adams case seem almost the same as in the Tayvon Martin case (Guy is following someone they consider suspicious in way that while kinda creepy isn’t illegal. Claims the suspicious guy attacked him without warning, forcing him to shoot in self defense. Physical evidence indicates some sort of fight happened, but the other guy is dead so we have nothing but the shooter’s testimony with regards to how the fight started).

        How come Sgt. Custer is a monster, but George Zimmerman is a hero?

  16. Sarcasmic: It all depends on the nature of the work. If the company does a lot of business with the government for example, they have to hire people that are in a position of “public trust” which excludes anyone who is dumb enough to admit to trying drugs, let alone having been busted.

    Not that using drugs or even being busted is necessarily disqualifying for govt. work. Lots of guys I work with have admitted to trying MJ. Some have admitted to trying cocaine. Neither are automatically disqualifying. In brief, it depends on when, how often, etc.

    You would ASSUME that if somebody admits to smoking mj legally (either medical MJ or in states like WA that have legalized it, federal laws notwithstanding) that this would not hurt their candidacy, but sadly that’s not going to be the case, I assume.

  17. I hope FIRE takes on this case…

    http://www.volokh.com/2013/05/…..qus_thread

    Seems he was arrested essentially for hate speech, iow entirely legal speech. As i have said before, many of these cyberstalking laws are blatantly unconstitutional and are used to quell free speech, merely because it happens on the intertoobs. Some very interesting commentary in the comments section. Free speech matters … a lot… so, this is a tragic case imo that he was even arrested.

    1. Must of thought they were in Canada or somethin’.

  18. The smarter answer is to have fewer crimes, and thus fewer criminals.

    Another smart answer is to stop strangling the economy. An article in the late 90s stuck in my head- it lamented the fact that unemployment was so low that employers were having to *gasp* hire ex-cons.

  19. That said, it’s getting easier and easier to imagine a future in which so many Americans have been criminalized that a criminal record ceases to shock, dissuade, or disqualify.

    But until then, confidence in your future vindication doesn’t put a roof over your head or food on the table.

  20. Think the NYT editor is aware that prohibiting an employer from eliminating a prospect from consider’n does not increase the number of jobs available? How do they know that after the favored applicants in their story were turned down, the employers didn’t hire other people who would’ve been even more sympathetic figures?

    1. That’s a good point. It sucks for the applicants who would be good workers but have no work experience or some blemish on their record, but in an economy like this, someone who needs a job is going to get the job.

  21. I think the position that the article takes is the right one as I do think that state or federal laws shoudn’t throw the baby out with the bathwater as companies do have protect their interests against potential lawsuits and embarrassment, both of which are capable of destroying a companies’ hard earned reputation.So in sum, If a company wants to run an in house background check or seek the services of providers like http://www.backgroundchecks.com, they should be free of restrictions to do so

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