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2016-06-08 / Opinion

Felon Forever?


Dayton Frey Downsville “The employers should know their past record. If they’ve done it in the past, there’s a chance that they could do it again. Dayton Frey Downsville “The employers should know their past record. If they’ve done it in the past, there’s a chance that they could do it again. For those who have been convicted of a felony, the sentence can hang over them throughout the rest of their life. In the United States, a common question on job applications concerns the applicant’s criminal history – either convictions or pending arrests or accusations.

According to New York State law, employers are allowed to ask job applicants about previous felony convictions and can fire prospective or current employees if the employer finds out that they have lied about their criminal history. Therefore, a convicted felon must disclose their criminal record to prospective employers forever.

In general, employers are not legally allowed to refuse employment to convicted felons on the basis of their criminal record, though there are exceptions to that rule. Convicted felons are not allowed to have a pistol permit, cannot be hired as police or peace officers and can be refused employment when their conviction is directly related to the work that they would be doing or if the employer judges that the employment of a convicted felon would pose unreasonable risk to people or property.


Anthony Shields Downsville I feel like felons should have to disclose their criminal history on their job applications, absolutely. Anthony Shields Downsville I feel like felons should have to disclose their criminal history on their job applications, absolutely. Though there is the possibility of a convicted felon receiving proof of relief of disabilities or a certificate of good conduct that they would be able to show employers, a felony conviction, by and large, severely limits future job prospects.

According to Delaware County Acting District Attorney John Hubbard, a convicted felon cannot be prosecuted in a court of law for not disclosing their criminal history. However, if criminal history is withheld for certain positions in the public sector, the person can be held accountable.


Kathy Sherwood Delhi “I think it depends on what they went to jail for and you need to learn more about the individual.” Kathy Sherwood Delhi “I think it depends on what they went to jail for and you need to learn more about the individual.” This seems to be a classic case of “damned if you do and damned if you do not.” Once a convicted felon is released from jail, the goal is to reintegrate into society – including, quite importantly, getting a job. Aside from the stigma of a felony record, there are significantly fewer jobs for which convicted felons qualify, given the legal limitations.

Is it the right choice to severely limit the employment options of convicted felons and what is the cost of doing so?

The effect of being unemployed is two-fold for convicted felons. First, they are much more likely to go on welfare and be dependent on the state for their livelihood. Second, employment is a key aspect of rehabilitation and reintegration into society. Without it, convicted felons are statistically more likely to continue committing crimes.


Lorraine Francisco Delhi “As an employer, I would want to know. But, as an employee, I would want to move on with my life. There are two sides to every story.” Lorraine Francisco Delhi “As an employer, I would want to know. But, as an employee, I would want to move on with my life. There are two sides to every story.” Once a convicted felon has completed their prison time and supervised parole, they are afforded the right to vote, once they register. Nothing of this sort is available to make it easier for convicted felons to find work. If a convicted felon has paid their dues, is it just to hold their conviction over their head for the rest of their life?

We asked Delaware County residents that question. This is what they said:

-Abby Butler is a Staff Reporter at The Reporter.



Judy Bowker Walton “It depends on the situation because felonies cover a broad range of crimes. I think it also depends on the degree and type of crime and whether it relates to the job to which the person is applying.” Judy Bowker Walton “It depends on the situation because felonies cover a broad range of crimes. I think it also depends on the degree and type of crime and whether it relates to the job to which the person is applying.”

Madeleine Helo Delhi “It’s unfortunate, but I think that people should have to disclose their felony record on job applications because their choices will follow them and that’s just something that an employer may need to know.” Madeleine Helo Delhi “It’s unfortunate, but I think that people should have to disclose their felony record on job applications because their choices will follow them and that’s just something that an employer may need to know.”

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