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The Stigma and Discrimination of Ex-offenders in Modern Society.

Brighan started this conversation

Many ex-offenders, or ex-felons suffer from collateral damages that keep them from finding a job, housing, and voting long after they paid their debt to society.

According to the EEOC definitions, a qualified ex-felon means a person convicted of a felony under either U.S. or state law and hired within one year of his/her conviction or release from prison. To qualify, the ex-felon also must be a member of a family that falls within a specific income guideline. Id. § 51(d)(4). Only the DOL Form seeks specific conviction information, including dates of conviction and release; the IRS Form 8850 includes this category along with the vocational rehabilitation referral and several others in one broadly framed inquiry.

None of the Federal EEOC laws prohibit specific pre-offer inquiries concerning conviction records; a question concerning whether an individual is an ex-felony offender thus would not be unlawful. Moreover, courts have held that questions regarding conviction records may be probative of job-related characteristics and thus permissible. See, e.g., Green v. Missouri Pac. R.R., 523 F.2d 1290 (8th Cir. 1975) (request for and consideration of conviction records permissible; complete ban on employment of persons with criminal records may violate EEOC laws on proof of disparate impact on protected group). In this instance, your client seeks information about felony convictions not to limit the employment of an ex-offender, but to enhance the job prospects of the ex-offender by determining whether his/her employment entitles an employer to a tax credit. 

I condensed the talking points from the article; ABOLISH LIFETIME BANS FOR EX-FELONS by Shawn D. Bushway and Suny Gary Sweeten. The authors write that lifetime bans for ex-felons affect an estimated 1 in 19 adults and 1 in 3 black male adults in the United States (Uggen et al., 2006). These bans may have some short-term benefit in the period during which ex-felons are at a higher risk of reoffending.

However, after a relatively short time span, offending risk differences disappear. Life-course research on desistance shows that virtually all ex-felons eventually desist and that the risk of reoffending drops precipitously as the period of non-offending increases. Lifetime bans bar entry into many types of employment, impede formation of stable family units, and block access to education assistance, low-income housing, and public assistance. These bans block the very domains thought to be central to the desistance process (Giordano et al., 2002; Irwin, 1970; Laub and Sampson, 2003; Laub et al., 1998; Shover, 1996). 


Critics argue that short-term bans of ex-felons may be justified because of short-term increased offending risk. In addition, long-term bans may be justified in certain politically sensitive cases, such as barring child sex offenders from working with children. Criminological research does not support blanket lifetime bans of ex-felons, and these lifetime bans must end. 

Networking also is important. In today’s economy, where jobs are becoming more and more scarce, few people are able to land jobs without connections. There are many support groups for ex-inmates throughout the country that could be great resources. We are no longer distinguished as blacks, whites, Hispanics, others. Ex-felons are searching for equality in America. This is why the following link is important-- ex-felons must network amongst each other.

There are millions of ex-offenders in America, and America’s political and economic system is not designed in our favor. America is not going to just give them what they want- economic independence, equality, a prideful restart in society. Higher education will not help most ex-offenders overcome the discrimination against them. Higher education may help them expand their minds, but to a great extent not their pockets. Ex-offenders must become owners, both internally and externally. 

Gorgus2 writes to the EEOC-- “There are so many ex felons that have paid their debt to society in the form of imprisonment that are being discriminated against getting a job, that it has become an epidemic. I think its time for the government to step in and do something and fast. I would like to be involved in seeing laws passed where it would be illegal to discriminate against any one with any criminal background as far as getting a job. It would seem to me that if society hands down a sentence to an individual to pay back society for the wrong they did, by doing time behind bars, that once that time has been completed then that’s it. We know that with out a job and at least a weekly paycheck you cannot survive, with out getting back into some kind of criminal activity. It is inhumane to deprive some one of the basic right to legally earn a living and feed oneself and or family. If society thinks that an ex felon is so bad that he is not fit to work and put food on the table, then keep him or her behind bars, and let the tax payers feed him. But do not send them back into society with out this basic protection. It is gravely needed, and at this point only the government can help stop this blatant act.”


We should be following the Wisconsin Bill that protects unpardoned ex-offenders. Here, experts suggest former inmates find an agency in their town that focuses on finding jobs for hard-to-place candidates and take advantage of whatever skills training they can get from the government, nonprofit groups and employment agencies with parolee experience.

America Works has locations throughout the U.S. that can be located on their Web site. Ex-offenders should check out the following Web sites for help: The Sentencing Project, The Legal Action Center, The Prisoner Reentry Institute, and Expungement Assistance Services.


The key to getting a job — especially for an ex-con — is references, experts say. To that end, some former inmates may have to take a low-level job, work their tails off, and use that employer for recommendations for the next gig. The Department of Justice has books and videos that help offenders find jobs.


Contact your State legislature and tell your elected officials that ex-offenders are growing and they need to have the same human rights for survival granted by the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. In addition, visit the petition signing site for stopping ex-felon labeling and discrimination.



Giordano, Peggy C., Stephen A. Cernkovich, and Jennifer L. Rudolph 2002 Gender, crime, and desistance: Toward a theory of cognitive transformation. American Journal of Sociology 107:990–1064. 

Irwin, John 1970 The Felon. Englewood Cliffs, N.J.: Prentice-Hall. 

Laub, John H., Daniel S. Nagin, and Robert J. Sampson.1998 Good marriages and trajectories of change in criminal offending. American Sociological Review 63:225–238. 

Laub, John H., and Robert J. Sampson 2003 Shared Beginnings, Divergent Lives: Delinquent Boys to Age 70. Cambridge, Mass.: Harvard University Press. 

Shover, Neal 1996 Great Pretenders: Pursuits and Careers of Persistent Thieves. Boulder,Colo.: Westview Press. 

Uggen, Christopher, Jeff Manza, and Melissa Thompson2006 Citizenship, democracy and the civic reintegration of criminal offenders. The Annals of the American Academy of Political and Social Science 605:281–310.   

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help for exoffender
My grand-daughter just lost her children and welfare benefits because landlords would not rent to her because of her conviction 6 years ago. DHS cut off assistance with no notice because if she dont have her children with her she don't have a case. She had no place to live stayed in hotels and sometimes left children at friends and family. She is also disable.
Talk to help for exoffender
hello discrimination is wrong in any format!!!
Talk to 14016113
 in response to rgf...   the lord also judges you on the 10 commandments

in other words...........

the lord says.............

be good!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
Talk to 14016113
 in response to X-offender...   Reoffending is not the answer.they crucified Jesus Christ for saying the truth...that he was the son of much more will they crucify sinners.don't fret my friend.As God liveth,these law makers and hypocrites will not escape damnation in the eternal world.Christ said all judgment is given to him.And he shall separate the sheep on his right hand and the goats on his just make sure your on his right hand.Don't hold the hate....God will rectify on the behalf of the broken....I assure you. Rgf
Talk to rgf
 in response to ...   Shawn is in need of Jesus Christ.Jesus said how many times shall we forgive one of these that offend against us...he said 70 times 7.
Talk to rgf
 in response to ...   Thank you for your honest open answer.just a few pointers you may want to think about. There is none not one the bible one is without sin.these x offenders are not rubbish or trash.they are human beings created in the image of God. Jesus Christ said,they that are without sin may cast a stone.our father who art in heaven,hallowed be thy name,thy kingdom come,thy will be done on earth as it is in heaven.give us this day our daily bread and forgive us our tresspasses AS WE FORGIVE THOSE WHO TRESSPASS AGAINST us. Just something for you to think about...thank you
Talk to rgf
 in response to ...   If you get into a fight with someone and break their nose, that is felony assault and you would put them in the same category of "violent offenders" as you would this man. That's wrong. I know because I lived my life of forty years with no criminal history until the day that this happened.
I know myself better than anyone and I know that I'm a good person. Shame on you for making generalizations about people that you have decided to place in one whole group.
Talk to Agoodperson2
E Striker
Thank you for the facts. The amount of money this country spends on locking up non-violent offenders is a crime. The plea bargains are extortion in many cases and the millions of former inmates are becoming a majority in their own right. It's not hug a thug politics it's the fact that America has made business a crime in many areas. These are facts not easily ignored. Thank you again.
Talk to E Striker
 in response to ...   Yeah, your opinion really matters. Lets take advice from someone who thinks cutting off someones hand is justice than has the nerve to call people criminals.
Talk to seanpconn
 in response to whoknew...

Here is the song for the show and Sammy Davis Jr. sung it. Long time ago. 

Talk to Starshine

This is why the public needs to be informed:



Dad stabbed in random attack on family

Updated: Wednesday, 04 Aug 2010, 10:16 PM EDT
Published : Wednesday, 04 Aug 2010, 10:16 PM EDT

PORTER, N.Y. (WIVB) - In Niagara County, Police arrested a man they say randomly attacked a family in the town of Porter.

The most unnerving part is that it seems totally random. There is no connection between the suspect and this family, but police say they had him in custody within minutes.

Shawn Zimmerman said, "Gimme some privacy. What the **** is wrong with y'all."

He swore at photographers and asked for privacy as 30-year-old Shawn Zimmerman of Newfane was taken into court. Just after 6 a.m. Wednesday morning , State Police say he knocked on the door of a house surrounded by cornfields on Youngstown-Lockport Road in Porter.

Capt. Craig Hanesworth of the NYS Police said, "I believe he indicated he needed to use the phone."

A woman in the house brought him the phone, and then he apparently pushed his way in and said he had a gun.

"Right now we have no motive. It's not clear why the subject chose this house, picked this house to go into, terrorize this family," said Capt. Hanesworth.

One of two teen-aged daughters in the house called 911 on a cell phone. Police then talked to Zimmerman by phone.

Capt. Hanesworth said, "At which time, he stated that if the officers came into the residence that he was going to kill the occupants."

Then as he talked to police through an upstairs window, he got into a struggle with the man of the house and stabbed him in the chest, and the stomach with a butcher knife.

"It's not believed to be life-threatening injuries, that he sustained," said Capt. Hanesworth.

Amber Green said, "I think it's scary, especially with little ones. And you think someone could just knock on your door, come in and stab you...scary."

Shawn Zimmerman had just been released from jail three months ago on a burglary charge. He is now held without bail facing what would be his third felony conviction on assault, burglary and criminal possession of a weapon.




just released 3 months ago... 3rd felony conviction.... assault, burglary, possession of a weapon and what now? attempted murder???? you think he deserves to be given a fresh start with a clean slate???? 

Talk to Anonymous

Though I understand that felonies are in different categories, I cannot agree with what is being suggested in this article. I feel it necessary to the rehabilitation of those who broke the law to have certain restrictions in place. For example, if someone went to prison for killing someone with a handgun, or using a gun in an armed robbery they most certainly should not have the right to purchase a gun when they are out of prison.

I am very upset with the current prison system. I do not feel that our prisoners who have committed crimes should be allowed to work (some work for companies such as Victoria Secrets), gain education (we have prisoners leaving prison with full degrees, some with even graduate degrees), nor have amenities. I know for a fact that they can work at the prison, gain bank prison accounts, and purchase items such as televisions, etc. Why on earth are we treating them as if they live at home? This to me does not change their behavior. I do not think we need to treat them as we did in the past, but there has to be a balance. If you did a crime, you should lose privileges‘. I mean, we do this with small children. If they make a mess, they clean it up. If they break a toy, they live without it. Why are we not treating these adults in the same fashion?

Prisoners in the United States are not in prison in third world conditions. If you ask me, they are already getting off far too easy for their crimes. We have rapists back on the street in a matter of months for good behavior. We have repeat offenders on the streets doing the same crimes. We have pedophiles protected when released!

I agree, we need better systems in place to prevent the crimes, and better systems in place to track those criminals once released-but I disagree taking the bans off felons.

Talk to AnoraE
 in response to whoknew...   

OH yes that is where that saying came from and was sung in the opening of the show which I loved watching. Don't do the crime, if you can't do the time.  He and his wife lived about 20 minutes from where we lived as we found out later. The actor Robert Blake.

Thank you for the info on background checks. I found people on my own. But as for IP adress and other things you mentioned new to me except for intellius which I used once...

Thanks again...

Talk to Starshine
 in response to Starshine...   

Is that where that saying came from? lol! I never knew!

There are a ton of online searches that will do the background check for you - spokeo - the one I mentioned recently, is a good place to start. County records are kept online now, and are matter of public record, also things like fbi most wanted, county jail, tax records, etc... some you have to pay for, some not.. 

other sites like zaba search, net detective, ip address lookup ( various sites) - things like facebook and myspace are great resources as well - people post a lot of stuff for the publis to see and read and they are all picked up by other sites... 

It really is like searching for resources - if you know what you are looking for and are willing to spend the time - and sometimes the $$$- you can find anything. 

Talk to Anonymous
 in response to whoknew...   

I have often felt the same way too when it comes to crime committed by someone. Especially when you get into the horrendous crimes. And I always thought that the theme of the Tony Berrata show was so right on, Don't do the crime, if you can't do the time.

Somehow when I was growing up that was remembered more by more people than later.. Hopefully there will be a turn around in being conscious on how to treat others which I always thought should be taught in school other than learning it at home and or in church...And the same goes for managing finances should be taught in school veres learning about the same thing each year. I could not wait to get to junior college where I got to choose things that interested me as I felt 10 grade through 12 should have been like junior college. My opinion...

Good points made by you whoknew

question ?

How do you do your own back ground check on someone??


Talk to Starshine
 in response to 40020...   

I disagree. Why should felons be rewarded for their bad behavior? Don't we have enough politicians doing that as it is?

If you don't want the internet selling your information - don't put it out there. But don't forget the credit card companies and county public records too!

No one is forcing anyone to perform background checks - people do it to know who they are dealing with. I do it all the time to make sure I am not dealing with a wife beater, thief, child molester, murderer, etc....

The public has a right to know - period! I want to know where I am spending my money and whom I am spending my time with. As I am sure millions of other people do. Why should we put outselves at risk because others cannot control themselves and feel the need to hurt others? We should feel sorry for them? I don't think so. So they did their time- so what? What did the person do to deserve being victimized?They have to live with the results of the crime for the rest of their lives! While criminals get a slap on the wrist? 

I think our country is too easy on criminals. The punishment should fit the crime.  Someone was to brutalize a child? Put them somewhere, where it WILL happen to them - every day - their own personal hell on earth. And no early release for good behavior. 

Feel like shooting someone- put them on the front lines in the war - let's see how tough they are then. 

 Want to sell drugs to kids?  Toss them to the drug cartels- see how well they can fit in there. 

In the middle east they cut off your hand for stealing - maybe would start that here... 

Or how about we stick people in the city square in stocks and label them for their crimes - a little public humilation never hurt anyone did it? 

Everyone feels they are entitled to some sort of pay off -HA! The old saying still holds true -if you can't do the time, don't do the crime.

Talk to Anonymous

It is time to file a class action civil rights law suit against the insurance companies who are forcing employers to perform background checks that go back forever. Also the internet companies that sell a persons background check to anyone that goes back for a persons entire life.

I feel that the environment in the courts right now would be open to such a lawsuit despite the old law regarding our issue. There have been too many new researches & studies about how an ex-offenders chances of recommitting an offence drops off after a certain amount of years to equal or exceed that of a non-offender. This takes away the old law of "the publics right to know" philosphy, especially when the argument is that these companies policies and acts are denying our constitutional right to the pursuit of life, liberty, & the pursuit of happiness.

 I am pursuing this course of action as of right now, and I offer my time & researching the law abilities to any group willing to file such a class action law suit.

 "Have you EVER been convicted of a felony" has to stop now, & I think the studies & research results will support our position as citizens that our rights are being violated.

Talk to 40020
 in response to Former Felon...   

You are right that employers fear liability when it comes to hiring ex-offenders. In Minnesota, it is now illegal for employers to ask anyone if they committed a crime on the job application, so there is a chance for a job interview at least.

Collatteral damages from "lifelong sentences" are a fact among job seeking competition, especially when illegal aliens are snatching up any available jobs.

In addition, in Minnesota, 1 in 7 people are criminals due to the fact DWI's are criminal acts. In some states, like Wisconson, DWI's are civil offense.

Talk to Brighan
Former Felon

That link is to a Facebook group that has a vision to eventually see criminal records treated like credit reports for non violent, non sexual criminals. Men and woman are being denied good jobs due to the post 9/11 employment background check era. 36yo man riding in a stolen car as a stupid 18yo is a theif for life on paper. Time for change and forgiveness. Young adults make stupid mistakes and NOW they are becoming life sentences outside the prison walls.

Talk to Former Felon

i'ts a blessing someone relize ex-offenders are people too..And i agree with the article, and the expunge process is a joke and a waste of $100 in the state of florida.They give you your rights back but not the right to work in an professional field.The goverment need's to step in and do something and let people work or they will have a big mess on thier hands later.The WOTC and the Federal Bonding program is worthless.I'm at my final straw with this non-sense i might re-offend!!!

 Concern X-offender

Talk to X-offender