HB 167

HB 167 is a bill that would require “PUBLIC” employers, in this case, the state of Delaware, to not, I repeat, not, consider an applicants criminal history during the application process of hiring.

The intent of HB 167 is to protect convicted felons from being judged on their previous bad behavior. The bill states,

“WHEREAS, persons who have paid their debts to society deserve a fair chance at employment and this act is intended to give the individual with a criminal record an opportunity to be judged on his or her own merit during the submission of the application and at least until the completion of one interview;”

Now we are passing laws to make life fair?

It is stated in the bill that the state of Delaware cannot ask an applicant, on an application, whether or not they have committed, been charged with, or been convicted of a crime. Only after an actual interview, and a conditional offer of employment has been made to the applicant, can the state ask the applicant about their criminal history, and run a background check, including a credit check.

The bill also limits the time frame for which the employer can search for such a history.  Only felony crimes committed within ten years of the application, and five years for misdemeanors, can be considered. And even if a criminal history exist, the employer then must consider whether or not the crimes committed would affect the applicant’s ability to do the job, or if the crime is related to the duties of the job in any way, or if the circumstances that created the situation of the original crime are likely to recur.

Of course this bill exempts any law enforcement agency and corrections position.

So maybe you are saying, so what?  Here is the real kicker, any private company doing business through a state awarded contract must also conform to this bill’s requirements.  The companies must have written policies that parallel the state’s policies, or else, they will not be considered for the contracts.

6909B. Fair Background Check Practices.

                (a) It shall be the policy of the State to do business only with contractors that have adopted and employ written policies, practices and standards that are consistent with the requirements of § 711(g) of Title 9.

                (b) Agencies shall review all contractors’ background check policies for consistency with the policies of the State as expressed in § 711(g) of Title 9, and shall consider background check policies and practices among the performance criteria in evaluating a contract.

So what’s the problem here? Right?

First off, do we really need to create another protected class of people whom employers will be required to hire? Think about this, what interviewer for the state of Delaware will have the courage to deny employment to someone who has been protected under the law?

This bill also opens up the state, in my opinion, to possible law suits for discrimination. If an applicant has been interviewed, and been conditionally offered the position, and then a background check is run, and a criminal history is present, then is denied the job, clearly the job was denied due to the history. This person will claim that the intent of this bill was to protect them from being discriminated against based upon their criminal history.

What government wonk will be willing to risk their job by denying a convicted felon a job?

Also let us consider the amount of time that will be added to the process of filling positions for the state, and contractors with the state. No longer can the application process be used to weed out those people unfit, or unwanted for a position, the employer will now be forced to interview every applicant and make so-called conditional offers, before they can run a background check. There is a cost attached to this bill as well as it simply being bad legislation.

How many jobs will go to the convicted applicant who has the qualifications, instead of the qualified person with no record out of fear of being accused of discrimination? Shouldn’t the person with no record be held up as the example of right?

Let us also consider the intrusion into the private business practices of the companies that seek to do business with the state. These companies for the most part do not deal exclusively with the state, they also do business with other private companies and individuals. Forcing them to conform their hiring practices, to those of the state, borders on socialism, where the government controls private companies through regulations, laws and mandates.

One has to ask about this part of the bill in particular, how many degrees of separation will exist for requiring contractors to conform? Just the contractor who signs the contract with the state? What if that contractor subcontracts some of the work? Do the subcontractor also have to conform to the policies of the state?

Think of the amount of people who will be affected by this bill. Imagine the number of companies that do some form of business with the state. Companies that fill the vending machines in government buildings. The paving companies that pave the highways. Companies that supply heating fuels to schools. The state park snack bars. Delmarva Power, and the Delaware Coop. The pits where the state buys its sand and salt for snow removal. The dealerships that sell the state its vehicles. Does this mean that Ford and GM will have to conform?

This is just another attempt to create a protected class, and to pander to a potential voting block. With total disregard for the unintended consequences. How long before some progressive legislator decides to actually add convicted felons to some antidiscrimination law?

Sponsors of this bill who want to be considered business friendly in an election year should pull their support of this bill.

http://www.legis.delaware.gov/LIS/lis147.nsf/vwLegislation/HB+167/$file/legis.html?open

29 Comments on "HB 167"

  1. waterpirate says:

    I read this as feel good nothingness. I do not support another protected class of people, but I do support not dissmissing someone out of hand in the first round of application. The interviwers do not need that info that early in the hiring procces. However if the applicant is qualified for the position, which I doubt would happen very often, then the background check is done pre-offer to the individual. @ that point the employment would prolly be recinded and it game over anyway. This is just another election year ploy to divert attention from the real issues and do nothing in reality for those felons, save for make somones emotions pluck a happy note.

  2. delacrat says:

    Comment

  3. delacrat says:

    If everybody wants somebody else to hire convicted felons, where are convicted felons supposed to work ?

  4. waterpirate says:

    Where a convicted felon works or how he/she conducts their life after being rehabilitated.lol is their personal problem. If the wages of their sin/felony means they work at low level jobs for the rest of their life, not at the NSA, so be it. You reap what you stole? Get it? Personal responsability for your actions.

  5. delacrat says:

    If no one will hire someone and that someone robs waterpirate to make ends meet, it’ s waterpirate who now has a problem. Get it ?

  6. Rick says:

    From the bill;

    WHEREAS, research has shown that many individuals with prior criminal histories pose no greater risk of future criminality than do people with no criminal history and are equally qualified, reliable, and trustworthy candidates for employment;…

    Have you ever read anything so ridiculous in your life? What is the definition of ‘many?’ Perhaps the ‘research’ shows that ‘many more’ do pose a greater risk of future criminality?

    The only saving grace of this legislation is that it applies only to felons who have been ‘clean’ for ten or more years, five years for those convicted for misdemeanors. This seems reasonable.

  7. waterpirate says:

    There are a plethra of job opportunities for felons that do not require them to provide/or disclose the fact that they are convicted felons. It is their fault/responsability that those jobs pay minimum wage, not as accountants, or working with children.

    If a felon robs me, it is a problem that the police and the courts will take care of. Clearly turning back to felonious behaviour with the excuse of making ends meet is the next in a chain of bad decisions made by said felon. I could only hope it was their 3rd strike. Get it now?

  8. Dave says:

    I would like to see the research they relied on for that assertion. Still, 5 years and 10 years of keeping your nose clean should count for something. Especially when a good number of the offenses occurred in the late teens, where poor decision-making is the norm because the brain has not fully matured. A lifetime penalty is significant price to pay. Even the NSA doesn’t hold smoking dope when you were a teenager against people for security clearances.

    On the other hand, I would not make any kind of offer (conditional or otherwise) unless someone was fully vetted (except for the drug test). I don’t know of anyone else who would do that either.

    All in all, a reasonable approach is what we should have. I’m not convinced there are a plethora of jobs that do not require disclosure, except minimum wage, no or low skill jobs.

  9. delacrat says:

    “There are a plethra of job opportunities for felons that do not require them to provide/or disclose the fact that they are convicted felons.” – waterpirate

    A right assertion which you don’t substantiate.

    “If a felon robs me, it is a problem that the police and the courts will take care of. “ – water pirate

    Will ? You’re naive, at best, to believe the police and courts arrest every criminal or they “will take care of” your problem. Especially, if the robbery leaves you without a pulse.

  10. waterpirate says:

    Your attempt to bait me failed at the onset. Good try though.

    Dave, DE has a severe shortage of blue collar workers and CDL drivers. Training is handily available to those who seek it out through Sussex Tech adult education programs and Del Tech, w/ grants available. Those jobs pay waaay more than minimum wage and do not require disclosure nor prohibit from employment.

    The problem remains pervasive for the felons as well as other punters, in that it takes time and effort on their part to achieve that goal. something most are unwilling to expend. They want to be paid the highest wage from the get go even though they do not posses any of the required knowledge to perform the tasks.

    IMHO this is another attempt to help those that can not or will not help themselves. The bill also stated that the requirement would come just prior to a offer being tendered not at the onset. That a person be measured initially on merit and skill first, then background check is normal IMO.

  11. Rick says:

    The problem remains pervasive for the felons as well as other punters, in that it takes time and effort on their part to achieve that goal. something most are unwilling to expend. They want to be paid the highest wage from the get go even though they do not posses any of the required knowledge to perform the tasks.

    Which is why there needs to be prison programs, preferable run by private companies, that actually teach a useful, in-demand skill to those who’ve finally figured out that the easy way isn’t so easy. And I’ m talking about real, intensive training that will genuinely prepare the inmate for a good job after release.

    Leave TV, weightlifting and basketball to the perennial losers. To those in prison who really do just need one break to make it in society it would be prudent to offer one.

  12. Mike Protack says:

    Another stupid proposal by an incredibly stupid state of Delaware government.

  13. fightingbluehen says:

    So, what happens if the employer doesn’t hire the felon? How do you prove that the applicant’s criminal record wasn’t considered? They are going to almost have to hire them.

    A state job with benefits sounds good to me. Maybe I should go out, and commit a felony.

    Anybody know of a good felony where there is not much jail time to serve?

  14. Dave says:

    “Which is why there needs to be prison programs…”

    I will take a that step further. Incarceration needs to have two fundamental purposes. The first is to remove the person from society, who has demonstrated the inability to live in society. The second, is to evolve that person to one who can someday live in society by preparing them for contributing to society. In that it should function somewhat as school (vocational and otherwise). I don’t know much about prisons, but it is my understanding that except for places like super max prisons, they do have such programs. Not sure how well they work and of course, it’s difficult to obtain the training for a CDL behind walls. Regardless, putting them away and letting the same person who went in now return to society is kind of silly. The only way to make them not the same person is education and training.

  15. waterpirate says:

    This brings it full circle. These programs exist both inside and out. It is the willingness to change via putting forth an effort to change that is lacking. I do not know how you effect a meaningfull change in anyone unwilling to put any effort in this endeavor.

    A CDL class A liscense sans a hazmat endorsement is easy peasy. Read the book, take the written, park the truck, presto. It is the unwillingness to submit to annual physicals and random drug and alcohol testing that precludes much of the population.

  16. Frank Knotts says:

    As a CDL holder, I take umbrage at the term, “easy peasy”, :)
    I appreciate the discussion of whether or not people should be given a second chance, but let us not lose sight of the fact that this bill will once again attempt to create a protected class, and it will impose the will of the state upon private businesses through blackmail.
    There are possibly many ways to help people become productive citizens once again, however this bill seems to put the burden on innocent employers instead of the people who committed the crimes to begin with.

  17. Laffter says:

    Well there Frank I do have to agree with you having a CDL is not easy peasy…

    Neither is parking a big rig….. ;-). Point noted.

  18. waterpirate says:

    Frank wins the turn of the phrase of the week for ” I take great umbrage” priceless!

  19. House Tuxamus Maximus says:

    Tuxamus Maximus thinks that if the convict isn’t a violent offender, and just a one timer, than they deserve a shot at a second chance. If they can get a CDL, or learn some other decent trade and can be productive they should have at least a shot at being part of society.

    For us it’s all about the impending snowstorm and getting enough to build a Knottman that we can throw snowballs at until it melts away. Most TM’s either here or on the way with high hopes of pelting the Knottman into submission.

  20. Kevin L. Lagola says:

    Here’s one compelling reason why DE should be careful with this proposed law: Btw, I copy and pasted this from my paid Delaware Online subscription. Apparently, Wilmington’s City Council President Theo Gregory doesn’t think this is a big deal…see quote below:

    Outrage stirred by 911 incident

    By Sean O’Sullivan

    The News Journal

    WILMINGTON — Some members of Wilmington City Council are demand­ing answers and calling for changes fol­lowing news that a city 911 operator was charged with warning her boyfriend about police activity while withholding information from dispatchers.

    “This is not acceptable,” said Wil­mington Councilman Michael A. Brown Sr., who heads the public safety commit­tee. “That individual, if proven she has violated the public’s trust, put in danger not only residents of the place where the call was reported, but the police offi­

    See OPERATOR, Page A8

    Article Continued Below

    See OPERA on Page A08

    Opera tor: Incident brings up questions about hiring process

    Continued from Page A1

    cers on the way to the scene.”

    “I’m very upset. Fuming,” said Councilwoman Maria D. Cabrera, adding that this comes just as officials are trying hard to build trust between police and the public to combat escalating violence.

    “We are already dealing with the fact there is a fear of reporting,” Cabrera said, saying the incident is now “another reason why people don’t have trust in public safety. Getting news of this type hits you in the gut.” On the other side is Wilmington Council President Theo Gregory, who said the situation is likely “an aberration.”

    “Things happen. You can have a person with a pristine record and they still mess up their first time on the job,” he said, adding he believes the city does “an excellent job” of checking backgrounds of job candidates and employees.

    “I do not think there is a systemic issue and I do not think it reflects on what the police department does or what operators do,” he said. “I think there are absolutely sufficient safeguards in place.” Late Monday, Wilmington Mayor Dennis Williams issued a brief statement describing the actions 26-year-old Alleshia L. Kennedy was charged with as “unacceptable” and intolerable. “The citizens of Wilmington deserve city employees and public safety personnel who will uphold the public trust and serve with honor and integrity. We are closely evaluating the city’s hiring policies, and specifically, looking to revamp the hiring procedures for civilian employees assigned to public safety,” Williams said in an email.

    However, specifics were not immediately available and as of Thursday night, city officials had not disclosed when Kennedy began working as a 911 operator. There is also some mystery about her criminal record.

    New Castle County Court of Common Pleas officials did not know why a 2011 case against Kennedy, charging her with possession of drug paraphernalia, had not been sent to trial or resolved. According to the court docket, Kennedy had been set to go to trial in March 2012 but that was pushed back to July 2012, then October 2012 and then November 2012. Kennedy’s attorney then withdrew from the case on Nov. 1, 2012, and nothing else took place until Thursday, according to the court docket, when a warrant was issue for Kennedy to appear.

    On Monday, Kennedy was charged with official misconduct, hindering prosecution and interference with emergency communications after police discovered that on Jan. 9, she withheld information from a 911 caller about a shooting. Instead of entering the information about the address of a shooting into the computer, she made a cellphone call to her boyfriend, Deontay Willingham. Police say she recognized the address.

    According to court papers, Willingham then sent a text, “Bro sum lady called the cops and told … [your] crib is where the shots came from,”to a person identified as “Crook.”

    Willingham then advised Crook that the address was not entered into the 911 system but to “clean up” and “Erase dis.” “We certainly hope it is just one bad apple,” said Councilwoman Loretta Walsh on Thursday, but she added that the whole incident raises red flags for her. “Quite frankly I’m very surprised that anyone with a police record for things other than a traffic violation would even be considered for [the operator job],” she said. “I was as shocked as anyone.”

    Cabrera said the incident hits close to home because she lives near Willingham’s last reported address and heard complaints about Willingham from people in the community.

    She said when Willingham was arrested on Jan. 16, “I took time to write a thank you note” to the officer that arrested him.

    “How long has this being going on?” Cabrera wondered. “I just cannot believe such a breach of confidence took place.”

    Gary Allen, a longtime dispatcher and editor of the California-based 911dispatch.com, said he has heard of a few situations like the one with Kennedy. “It is usually a spur of the moment kind ofthing,” he said, involving a boyfriend or spouse, “not like gangs planting people in communications centers to warn people off.” As for restrictions on having cell phones in the 911 center, Allen said it varies by jurisdiction but it is common in larger areas, like New York City and Los Angeles, that employees are barred from having personal electronics. In smaller, more quiet areas, Allen said, it is often permitted. Councilman Charles “Bud” Freel said he is waiting to get more information from the administration and police but said the situation “causes a great deal of concern.”

    “Clearly we have to look closely at the process of hiring these 911 dispatchers. It is a sensitive position,” he said..

  21. Tim Holly says:

    Folks should note the most current amendment alters the portion regarding private employers. I’m not saything that makes it perfect; but it certainly makes it better:

    “The State shall include in all formal solicitations a section stating the State does not consider the criminal record, criminal history, credit history, or credit score of an applicant for State employment during the initial application process unless otherwise required by state and/or federal law, and vendors doing business with the State are encouraged to adopt similar policies.”.

    Note the last 5 words.

    I believe this is now in committee with the State Senate.

  22. Tim Holly says:

    Oh – one more thing.

    This is proposed to be part of DE’s anti-discrimination law. It just isn’t included in the same provisions as other protected classes, which seems to be the new thing to do. Note the recently-added protected class of

    § 719A Volunteer firefighters, ambulance personnel and ladies auxiliary.

    That group also has its own protections (different provision from age, sex, . . .).

  23. Ebony says:

    Every person in this world has done something wrong people who have felonies just so happen to get caught. So to me they spend time in prison as punishment for what they have done. They are told for the most part and are on parole/probation to get a job and turn their lives and doing better. Their main issue coming back and trying to live is people looking at their background and judge them as that person. Now I understand the worry and I get with some people who have been in prison. But let’s be realistic they are all aren’t the same people who haven’t been jail can steal, disrespect your company some how. And for the most the ones who have been to jail work harder because they want it because of what they are up against. Background checks should really be background not criminal history. Stop treating people like like a number and more like a person. Everyone deserves a chance. They shouldn’t feel like their at a day of sentencing every time they want to work some where. I hate the word felon they aren’t in prison serving time for a felony. People always want to label or title everything. Their people like you and me with a past. If you are aren’t or don’t know someone who has seen the struggle for them then you really don’t understand this.

  24. Frank Knotts says:

    Ebony, I respect your point of view, you make good points. But I feel that the employers have rights as well. The number one right in this case is that they have the right to know as much as possible about the person they are hiring. Why should they have to go through the whole process of interviewing if they are going to turn down someone because of a prison record, and why should they not be allowed to make that decision, it is their business. If they don’t want to hire felons, then they shouldn’t have to.
    My fear is that the next step is that employers would have no say in who they hire, if someone applies for a job they get it or the government fines them for the newest made up discrimination law.
    No one has a guarantee of employment in a free nation.

  25. Ebony says:

    Frank that’s understandable but if they interview the people learn about them check see how they are. If they have background then get more info ask for recommendation letters or something from their P.O. but disqualifying them because of background when you can have a good worker on your hands and let them go. Now I don’t agree that you shouldn’t know at all about backgrounds agree with you because you need to know what you dealing with. But I know there are people who has been to jail for felonies and has completely turned their life around but they deal with this all the time people see criminal record and it’s a no go. Even though it was yrs ago and they have people (managers, coworkers, peers, pastors, pos) but they don’t even get the chance to go that far. That is what I feel is unfair. It needs to be set it up to help both parties.

  26. Frank Knotts says:

    Ebony, I am not arguing that people do not deserve a second chance, I have received a few in my life time that made a difference of who I am today. The problem I have is that I believe that in a free nation, people have the right to be stupid. And if an employer is going to have a snap judgment of a person with a record, well they have that right. They may be missing the best person out there for the job, a person that has learned from their mistakes and who will never again make those mistakes. However, it is not the government’s role to mandate who is hired, or even who is considered, in my opinion.
    If we allow this, we might as well just give up and say to our government, “make very decision for us”. Like what type of health care we want. Oh! Wait!

  27. mouse says:

    So if some guy smoked a joint and some over zealous cop hiding out in the bushes wating to manufacture a crime arrests him, he should be disqualified from a respectable job for the rest of his life?

  28. mouse says:

    How about some paranoid gun nut forgets his implement of death is under the seat and he gets caught crossing state lines with it?

  29. Frank Knotts says:

    That would depend on the individual private business owner. No one is saying they can’t hire a pot head, just that they should have the right not to and to have that information before wasting time and money interviewing.
    As for the gun question, well if they break the law then they have broken the law. If an employer chooses not to hire them, again, same answer.

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