Monday, July 21, 2008

Jobs For Ex-Offenders A Top Priority For Ballard

Mayor Greg Ballard is putting his full support behind an effort to encourage Indianapolis employers to hire ex-offenders. Colts Coach Tony Dungy has agreed to chair Ballard's "Ex-Offender Re-entry Program." Ballard's plan not only includes an effort to place ex-offenders in city and county jobs but also a preference in city contracting for businesses which agree to employ ex-offenders. A city ordinance is required to enact the bidding preference. It is this latter proposal which is likely to draw the ire of some in the business community and elsewhere.

The city is already providing preferences to women and minority-owned businesses. Mayor Ballard recently added another preference category for veterans. The net effect of all these preferences is to disadvantage male and white-owned businesses which seek to employ the best employees available. Hiring ex-offenders could prove both costly and too risky for these small business owners. It is also counter-intuitive. Are law-abiding people going to lose out to job opportunities because a would-be employer had to hire an ex-offender to win or retain a city contract?

Whenever I read about ideas like this one I'm reminded of William Bennett's, "The Book Of Virtues." We've become a society which rewards bad behavior and punishes good behavior. We need programs which reward good behavior. It's as if virtue has become a vice. Just wait and see who has their hands out first to get a piece of the taxpayer money needed to fund this program. The same old "do-gooders" who've been feeding at the public trough for years. Who is going to be held to account when a public employee is harmed by the violent act of an ex-offender this program compelled to be hired? Or when public funds or property turns up missing because the city compelled the hiring of a person with a prior theft-related conviction?

Of course, the big proponent of this plan is Deputy Mayor Olgen Williams, a convicted felon who stole from the U.S. Post Office while employed there to feed his drug habit. Although there is evidence Williams turned his life around and successfully obtained a presidential pardon so he could run for public office in Indiana, in my mind, his past criminal record should have disqualified him from holding such a high-ranking position in our city government. Mayor Ballard obviously thinks much differently than I do on this point, and he wants to fill city government jobs with more people just like Williams. I know there are many people who think I'm being too hard-lined on this particular issue. My parents spent a great deal of time teaching their children the importance of understanding right from wrong. It is very disheartening to see so much reward in our society today for people who abandon this important principle for the quick gain. As long as we continue to embrace a society where there are no bad consequences for bad behavior, we shouldn't be surprised at how badly people behave. I guess the motto "Do The Crime, Do The Time" has been replaced by "Do The Crime, Reap The Reward."

8 comments:

Bart Lies said...

Since Olgen's 'been there and done that', I think there's value in his being on the team.

Learning right from wrong can be instilled at an early age by good parenting, or later in life. Admittedly those who don't learn as a child rarely seem to learn as an adult. But Olgen seems to be one of the fortunate ones that got a second chance and didn't squander it. I sure don't think he's been given a 'reward' - he's worked hard and earned his second chance to make good.

Advance Indiana said...

You can bet that a more qualified candidate lost out to a coveted postal worker job when Olgen got that job. He got extra points for being a minority and a Vietnam vet. I have nothing against giving someone a second chance. A second chance doesn't mean you should hold the second highest job in a major U.S. city.

Zappatista said...

If you are talking specifically about Williams, well then you are correct. But, if you are speaking in genral terms, I'm not sure....We hear all the time, "He's a jail bird, why can't he just get a job like the rest of us?" Well, you have your answer. There are very few that will hire a convicted felon. Society can't have it both ways. We also hear about "serving one's time". Well that too is a double standard. If we say someone has served their time, then it's over. Done. But, we don't really mean that. I don't have a problem either way, just figure out what it is....

Advance Indiana said...

Your position is an easy one to take, zappatista, if you aren't the employer who has to be concerned about liability for the actions of his employees. If I hire a violent ex-offender, knowing that fact, and he harms another co-worker or customer, I might get sued. If I tell my bonding agent that I'm hiring ex-offenders who write bad checks, steal, etc., it could have an impact on the cost of obtaining a bond. Yet, there are plenty of employers who are desparate to hire employees and will take a chance on ex-offenders. That's their choice. Picking one business over another for a government contract because it employs ex-offenders just strikes me as stupid, particularly when it is the government which passes laws restricting where some ex-offenders can live and work and prohibiting others from hiring those with certain criminal convictions.

artfuggins said...

If you look at the Ballard administrative staff, you will realize that Ballard believes in hiring ex offenders and in some cases, he is hiring future offenders.

Money77guy said...

You have to start somewhere! If we don't try to give these people a 2nd chance then they may just go back to being a offender. I can think of a lot of my friends who screwed up in high school and college and have straightened them self out from both drugs and alcohol. I myself was a drug and alcohol (the 70's a large percentage of the young people were)abuser and I turned out ok. So get off the soap box! Everyone has dealt with problems in their personal life and has defeated them. The people that can't are the people I feel for.

Big Red said...

The Mayor can find plenty of candidates over at 40 S. Alabama for his program, and I'm not talking the ones behind bars. LOL

jessfish said...

Everyone deserves a chance at life. We all did something in our personal lives that most likely would have put us in jail. I think most of the people that do not have a criminal record just got lucky and never got caught! We are ALL sinners! We are human not perfect. We would be stupid if we said every employee that passed a background check is a saint! I can promise you that we all are guilty of something! And that something would have most likely been ATLEAST a felony charge. Lets use a little common sense. We see everyday on the news about some well respected "nice guy" or "nice lady" in some well respected position working for a great company or government position getting into serious truble. I police officers and firefighters getting thier faces put on the news everyday for some sort of crime. And we thought they were saints! HA! how naive we are to think that. We will always be human and we all will do something stupid in our lives. Some of us will get caught and most of us will get away with the crime. Those of you that complain about criminal and "afraid" of hiring them, I bet YOU did something illegal in your life and never got caught. I think a lot of the more ethical people on this planet ARE the ones that got into trouble just because it has made them expierence rock bottom and learned from it. I'm not saying all people that get into trouble are good people. The ones that continue to commit crimes over and over and over definitly has a disorder that needs to be diagnosed and treated. And a lot of the ones that go back to crime have no choice because employers dont want to hire them. So these ex-cons are forced back to commit crimes. Things need to change. we are only human. We need to learn how to forgive give chnaces. Wouldnt you want someone to give you a chance if the tables were turned?