Banning Criminals From Working

If someone gets out of jail, it’s basically guaranteed that he’s going to want to make some money. One way to make money is to do legal work. Another way is to commit crimes. So I think we should always be leery of new rules restricting the employability of convicts. But David Moraca, a member of the New York Association for Pupil Transportation and the transportation director at the Onteora Central School District has led a push for tighter rules on who can drive a school bus in New York and Gov. Cuomo signed the bill:

The list includes several sex crimes, like predatory sexual assault, disseminating indecent materials to minors, sex trafficking and persistent sexual abuse. In all, convictions for 26 felonies will become automatic disqualifying factors, raising the number of crimes for which a conviction would warrant a permanent ban from school-bus driving to 58.

The law also makes the ban permanent rather than temporary for those convicted of vehicular manslaughter, aggravated vehicular homicide or promoting prostitution.

Obviously, it’s tough to be the guy who’s going to bat for convicted murderers, pimps, and rapists. But the reality is that most people convicted of these crimes don’t serve life sentences. They don’t get executed either. So they have to do something. And the nature of the modern American economy is that the majority of job opportunities involve interacting with other human beings. If it was up to me, we’d try to draw these restrictions very narrowly. A school bus driver supervised children and pilots a vehicle. Serious curbs on people with records of criminally inept driving seem clearly warranted. Similarly, you could plausibly worry that pedophiles would be interested in driving a school bus for sub-market wages and want to make sure you’re screening them out. But beyond that, what is the job you want your ex-con murderer to be doing? We can’t ship them to Australia. Penalizing ex-cons by making them unemployable is only going to backlash against us in the form of reduced reintegration and more crime.