I 100% honestly feel like tech saved my life. My first job immediately gave me hope that I'm not defined by my past.
Went from working in a factory making $7/hr (about 10 yrs ago), to now grossing well over 6 figures (currently making west coast type wages).
Run a small consultancy now and can even subcontract out work to a few friends. I know there's alot of talk on how to make the industry more inclusive (which I agree we need to do better at). But I can't think of any industry as meritocratic as tech.
In fact, in one very sad case, I showed up to my first day of work as a sys admin and was walked out after 2 hours because the HR department neglected to go over my application and see the felony checkbox until that day, despite having been hired over a month before!
During lunch, I pop my head in the manager's office, and let them know how thankful I am for the position. I'm excited to have the opportunity. Manager never had someone do that before.
Later on that afternoon I got a called in to that manager's office. Change of plans, no need to come in again. I could collect my things (what things? First day.) and go.
Getting a gig in a security context is going to be hard. While most places can't openly not hire you due only to you being a felon, that's how it's going to be. It's not great, but that's how it is.
Most of the real earners in security are making proof of concept code for vulns, and a huge swath of them are felons. Zerodium has generally the best payouts if you don't want to bother networking and building a client list. They do not care about any previous felonies. They only care that your code works. They will pay hundreds of thousands to a million dollars for PoC in some stuff. If you can find two exploits in mid-tier stuff a year, you can earn a six figure living.
There's also the crypto economy.
Another big tip is to move where cost of living in extremely low (Eastern Europe, Cambodia, etc) to make your freelance money last longer while you look for good bugs. I'm a former felon -- my felony conviction was vacated but nobody really seemed to care after I left prison by flipping the false charges on appeal that I wasn't technically a felon anymore. There were no real job opportunities and I had to make my own.
That might be your problem. From what I heard it's a more sensitive role so they will take a stricter stance.
Hell, even if you committed a murder that doesn’t make you any more likely to steal company secrets.
If that mattered, all of antidiscrimination law would be struck down.
discrimination is prohibited towards protected categories. i.e. gender, ethnicity, sexual orientation... on top of it, most of those aren't things that you choose yourself.
With the possible exception of religion (you're born into a certain culture, so "by default" you might feel affiliated to a certain religion, so asking people to renounce that would definitely be oppressive), and veteran status (which is not a protected category around the world, I think... though it is in the US)
If you self-select into a segment of the population that no one is born into, yet it's lawfully discriminated against (i.e. felons ITT) I'm afraid that you don't have a good case to protect yourself from such discrimination.
 Unfortunately, systemic racism and the plea/prosecutors/bail system make it so that people in certain segments of the population are more likely than others to end up involved in crimes.
If there never was any racism there would be no need for laws forbidding discrimination on race, conversely if we where deeply elitist based on height there could exist laws about height discrimination.
With regards to felonies the two question I consider focal are:
1) what is the long-term plan for convicted criminals, and
2) how much extra-judicial/social punishment should we tolerate on non-public figures for non-public crimes.
1% of 988 murderers were arrested for a new crime (yet not another murder). Is that higher than average? It sounds like it is.
Keep in mind also that being an ex-con in a community likely puts you at the top of the PD's suspect list for new crimes, and that reintegration with society is difficult, so imprisonment (regardless of crime) makes recidivism more likely.
Intuitively, it makes sense that "statistically, it does", but if words have meaning, than "statistically" means literally there are statistics demonstrating the assertion, and so far, bupkis
More realistically, the (un)likelyhood of a felony conviction going unnoticed on a background check means that whether or not you check the box, if the employer does a background check it will become known, but some places don't run the check and some don't actually care about the results but they're required to run the check.
1. Go to a big city where software folks are paid a lot
2. Apply for roles at startups or small companies who find it hard to compete with big companies paying a lot.
Freelancing was the approach I saw some people do successfully, but there were lots of projects we couldn't put them on.
We even saw clients that refused anyone who had even a misdemeanor, at which point I discovered how many of our consultants had misdemeanor DUIs or arrests for various non-violent reasons.
It's very easy to get slapped with a misdemeanor in the U.S and even many other countries, often for absurd, bullshit reasons that had more to do with the mood of the authorities in a given context than a person being at all an abnormal danger to society.
There are always waivers so to speak. I've hired people that have had bad pasts, as long as they've shown they're on the right path. If we're not going to give people opportunities after they've completed what we as a society have deemed as recourse for their actions, what's the point in it all.
You may not be able to get a clearance or work in some finance positions, but there are ways.
The stigma with former felons is why there's a lot of repeat offense, why people stay stuck on the social ladder, and of course why the US' attempt at democracy is laughable.
Edit: background checks are standard practice for employees and contractors usually.
I've done a lot of consulting and small contracts on the side and have never been aware of any background checking. I don't even think most have my SSN, just the info for my bank account. And I have a pretty common name. There's convicts even in my state with the same name I can find on search. Often there's not even a formal contract, just a handshake.
Also you can make money this way all over the world.
You either haven't worked bottom-of-the-barrel jobs or lived in areas where this sort of thing wasn't allowed.
So I have no ability or desire to try to hide from my past, at this point. I'm just trying to own up to my mistakes and do better.
Have you thought about changing your legal name? It's a bit of a chore, but it might allow to permanently shed a lot of baggage if you change to a common name.
For our business, larger customer MSAs often have requirements about criminal convictions.
We additionally require -- per soc2 as well as MSAs -- to background check our contractors.
As the twitter author said, it's a thing that I could potentially work around, but there's only so many hours in the day. And I would probably have to be able to permanently guarantee that eg an employee with a felony conviction never had access to certain data.
If you know you're not going to pass the background check then you're probably better off working at a startup.
The world is a disappointing place sometimes.
If you want to minimize the extent to which people use demographics as a proxy for qualities they want to select for, then make it as cheap and reliable as possible to measure those qualities directly.
I have no idea how well that would work, but it seems like the only variable you can control.
This never gets enough visibility among freelancers / contractors / consultants - it can be really hard to get paid and for smaller amounts of money it often would take too much in legal fees to actually get paid.
This is an important one, as is a clause in your contract that will force them to pay legal fees in the event you have to sue to get them to pay.
>Don’t work until payment is made?
I'm a fan of arrangements where clients pay something up front, then receive work, then pay the rest. No client in their right mind is going to pay the whole amount up front and frankly nor should they. But, if they pay 50% up front, you do work, and then they decide to stiff you for the final payment, you'd better have a good lawyer and a tight contract.
Bottom line is people are absolutely horrible to each other if they're given even the slightest pretense. It's just a disgusting facet of our psyche, I guess. Those convicted of a crime are condemned to continued punishment by anybody who cares to look at their record, long after they've repaid any debts. I remember asking a police officer when I was in my early 20's why every time I handed my Id to an officer I was searched, arrested, or charged with something. She replied simply, "Because you have a yellow stripe painted down your back."
The fact I had an outstanding warrant for a speeding ticket in another state and doing stupid and illegal things aside, once you have a record it is very hard to escape it. Most are relegated to menial minimum wage jobs. I was lucky, I have a social safety net, confidence, I knew I could get around it. Decided to focus my studies on something so specialized an employer wouldn't try looking for reasons not to hire me. I don't think anybody has actually checked my record since I graduated. The only applications I've been handed were basically a token for HR and I simply mark, "No" under the, "Have you ever been convicted of a crime?" question. Because it doesn't matter. It should be illegal for anybody to access resolved criminal records if they don't have a direct reason pertaining to the safety or security of others. It's not your job as an employer or hiring manager to judge someone's mistakes, only their aptitude to perform a job.
> It's not your job as an employer or hiring manager to judge someone's mistakes, only their aptitude to perform a job.
I have no horse in this race, so my opinion is mostly out of ignorance, but I believe that this formulation isn't entirely correct. In a sense employers should be allowed to make stupid decisions; the problem is when too many employers make correlated decisions leaving out a innocent chunk of the population.
If few employers do background checks that ex-convicts have easy to access alternatives it is not a problem, if enough employers use that a new social class of unemployable people is created it becomes a serious problem.
I like the idea of forbidding discrimination based on unrelated offences, but am not particularly informed on the topic.
I'm clueless. What would lead to serving life?
Much respect for your friend, and congrats on her success! It’s not easy at all to actually self rehabilitate behind those walls.
Many TLM grads have returned home after decades in prison and gotten good jobs in tech. The key is making useful resources like coding classes available to those inside seeking opportunity.
By the way - TLM is hiring a Dev Ops & IT Manager, if you want to help us grow our in-prison tech program: https://thelastmile.org/work-with-us/#2321
Another job at a startup in Germany that worked in less tightly controlled spaces has never asked me to produce my criminal record, nor could they legally. An employer can only ask questions that are reasonably necessary for them to make a fair consideration about me as an applicant. You could ask an accountant about embezzlement convictions, a pharmacist about drug convictions etc., but that is not applicable to software engineers.
This is the only sane way to do things.
Should a person convicted of theft, who's served their time, paid the fine, made the victims whole, and learned not to steal, be discarded from consideration as a useful member of society? In case it's not clear, I think they should have the same rights as any other human being.
No one seriously advocates the death penalty or life imprisonment for petty crimes. But depending on the ability of a society to forget (which the information age is rapidly making very difficult) and the ability of a society to forgive (which the climate of fear is also making difficult), a conviction in your record can ruin a life.
How do you know they "learned not to steal"? Can you look inside of their heads?
There are jobs with less opportunities to steal, for example. Trust has to be regained, simply "having been in prison" is not really worth much in that respect. You would stay in prison, regardless of your mindset, because you are forced to be there.
The equation isn't "bad person -> steals". Its "person maladapted to society / with unhealthy community -> steals". Why would someone be a thief if they have a stable job and community?
And how do you expect someone fresh out of jail, with no connections and community, to make a stable life for themselves if nobody will give them a job?
If you don't think somebody having done X before makes them more likely to do it again than normal people, I don't know. (More accurately, people who did X are more likely to be people who would do X again). We just have to disagree - but you can not enshrine such beliefs in law.
As I said, trust has to be regained, merely doing something you are forced to do anyways does not prove anything about your real attitudes.
In "How To Change Your Life In 7 Steps", the founder of the homeless magazine "The Big Issue" John Bird describes what he had to do to be able to have homeless people work for him. I have high respect for people like him.
That's the issue at hand. Serving a prison sentence doesn't mean that you have learned not to steal. It's difficult for the company to verify that you have "learned your lesson".
There was an article a little while back about a company tracking the employees behavior on the computer, and a lot of people mentioned that ‘if you are not trusted regardless, what incentive do you have to be trustworthy’.
This is the exact same thing.
If the job is minimum wage, of course, then it's not possible to lower the wage further.
Also, discovering the theft and proving it was that employee might be difficult.
'cause I mean...if not, what was the point of the jail term? Depending on perspective, it might be rehabilitative, or it might be punitive, but either way, time served should equate to a clear record, no? If not, you're either saying they need further punishment, or you don't believe that they've been rehabilitated, in which case why were they let out?
I don't think you should necessarily spend all that time in prison, but not having access to trusted jobs is not comparable to being in pain every day for the rest of your life.
On the other hand, I wouldn't mind if more punishments were metered out in the form of community service.
But even without taking it to its conclusion, I'd contend "fairness" as you define it there isn't necessarily the best outcome for society; an ex-hacker is probably an excellent choice when hiring for electronic security, an ex-robber an excellent choice for hiring for physical security, etc. Even a murderer can go on to great things that benefit society. I mean, hell, Miguel De Cervantes, author of Don Quixote, the first modern novel, wrote his first published work while in prison. The Birdman of Alcatraz (Robert Stroud), a murderer, published major works in ornithology, and found a cure for a bird disease. Rehabilitated criminals can still benefit all of us, as well as redeem themselves in their own eyes by doing good for themselves and their loved ones.
But all that aside, you're saying you believe the additional punishment should be societal scorn carried out by vigilantes (i.e., average citizens deciding the person shouldn't hold a job even though they've paid the price the courts decided on)? That hardly seems just or 'fair'.
There are problems. For example, breaking a professional tennis player's arm may be much more career-damaging, and arguably "worse", than breaking a professional chess player's arm; and excessive retaliation is itself a crime. In that case, it may be good to get a judge or some such to evaluate the severity before carrying out the retaliation. That also goes for judging the evidence—obviously, punishing someone for a crime they didn't commit is itself a crime. So one could imagine this turning into something at least vaguely resembling today's court system.
There have existed societies in which the penalty for murder was to pay a fine. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Weregild
Also, this doesn't insulate rich criminals from all repercussions. If they have enough money to pay the fines when murdering tens of people... well, you could try killing the criminal directly. You can do that today as well, if you're prepared to pay the price.
A really rich criminal could hire bodyguards, of course, but those would be costly, imperfect, and have some chance of turning against their employer. Ultimately it would become a rich guy in charge of an organized criminal gang, which... is also something that exists today.
> ...If they have enough money to pay the fines when murdering tens of people...
It's not about "murdering tens of people". It's killing someone whilst drunk driving, or murdering someone in an argument. These situations clearly still happen in the current system. But with what you're saying codifies that, if someonene is rich, as long as their crime is not against someone else rich, they can generally avoid any repercussions. Blood libel is still a thing, can literally see it in action in countries which have legal systems that allow it.
In the US at least, having a felony conviction (and the bar for that is not that high) is effectively a lifetime punishment. It’s incredibly difficult for someone with a felony conviction on their record to get a job with potential. That’s a big part of why the recidivism rate for felons is so high. They often don’t have many options to make a living.
This is a poor argument: the judicial system has also determined, by lack of prohibition, that it's appropriate for employers to discriminate based on criminal record.
It really was.
> Prisons and prison population
>There are 12 prisons in the Republic of Ireland with a total bed capacity of 4,106 as of 31 December 2009. The daily average number of prisoners in custody in 2009 was 3,881. However, most of these prisons currently operate at or above capacity. On 25 January 2011 the prison population stood at 4,541. There were about 80 prisoners per 100,000 inhabitants in October 2015, and in Northern Ireland it was 78 per 100,000 in February 2016.
I have to say "almost" as there is the very rare criminal who is actually mean and targets people the way the state does.
People denied access. Denied votes. Denied work. Denied the means to live.
Criminal convictions are perhaps not the best measure of trustability.
Do we? What does the average programmer working on internal business applications, b2b services or CMSs have access to that is of any risk?
But I would guess that programmers at Tinder/Grindr/$datingSite had access to production data in the early days. Probably many SaaS things, perhaps doing stuff in the HR/recruitment/time reporting area. For B2B I'm guessing many programmers have access to business sensitive data, that competitors would like to get their hands on. At the least I would guess that at least the average backend developer have access to all contact info / emails for all users in services they work on.
Obviously all best practices say that random Joe programmer shouldn't have access to these things, but I don't think that match the _average_ reality.
My guess is that is actually pretty fricking hard, as otherwise it'd be happening all the time. I.e. you can maybe make a backdoor to something without monetary consequences (even in a bank most systems don't handle money), but introducing a backdoor to the core system (i.e. a money-dealing one) in such a way that it is not noticed in code reviews or testing AND you can claim plausible deniability seems hard.
Unskillful or unlucky criminals are prosecuted by the law, more careful criminals often defy the law.
Would the only valid crimes be related to computer hacking?
Not necessarily. When working for a fintech or a bank, financial crimes can be very relevant. Writing bad code is, lucky me, not directly punishable as a crime.
Espionage, theft, and violent crimes... That's a different situation (I don't want someone coming after me after I liter their PR with comments)
For all you know, they could have 'hacked in' via the password on the post-it on their coworkers monitor.
Point is that it's relevant under those circumstances, and fair play for an employer search. Drunken and disorderly is not.
They also apparently have poor judgement and/or security practices, if they got themselves convicted under CFAA or similar. And possibly questionable moral integrity depending on what and how they were hacking.
Background checks are not intended to evaluate skills but to find risks. Having a hacking conviction is generally not a positive signal.
Ever see office Space? ;-)
Or willingly install Windows Server facing the internet directly, that would be the other one ;)
This is what the American justice system is like.
In a saner world, (only) people who are a danger to others would be separated from the society, and being set free would be and indication that you are no longer a danger.
In the US, being released from prison signals you are more dangerous than if you got away with your crime.
If someone is more likely to do it again because they are mentally unstable, they shouldn’t be released.
The person who hit him was charged with manslaughter.
It's worth noting that it also leaves their children a smaller chance at success as well, and then the cycle continues. When you add this to the fact that Black male offenders received sentences on average 19.1 percent longer than similarly situated White male offenders , this adds up to one aspect of systemic racism in America.
0 - https://projects.sfchronicle.com/2016/captive-lives/
1 - https://www.ussc.gov/research/research-reports/demographic-d...
Is there any reason to believe that Federal judges are more racially biased compared to State judges? I'd be shocked if State judges as a group are more color-blind than Federal judges.
It may be the case that in state courtrooms judges are the same, worse, or better, but making that inference on the basis of federal-level data is probably unjustified.
Statistics is hard, and the entire reason there's leeway in sentencing is to account for situations which are resistant to statistical regularity.
There is, or was, a pretty obvious source of disparity in US law: freebase cocaine was a felony at much smaller quantities than cocaine salt, and the former was more likely to be used and dealt by black Americans.
Would that show up in such an analysis? They were different convictions, after all. So the only answer can be "yes or no", and so on ad infinitum.
Although it's important to note that alcohol was illegal, and tobacco is becoming increasingly low-status and accordingly restricted.
The end of Prohibition meant that the enforcement apparatus for it needed something new to do. I believe this was another contributing factor to continuing the broken logic of Prohibition with new substances.
Sometimes I do wonder how much better we could all get along if some substances had relaxed or dropped restrictions.
When you think about it, there's the mental toll on users about public disapproval amplified by the legal status. On top of that, the divide on the non user side about someone being a "lawbreaker".
Just seems to cause a lot of division. On top of the illegality of harder drugs leading to the rise of cartels and gangs.
Just thinking out loud. What if the US said 'screw it', try making everything legal for 5-10 years, produce what it can locally, and just see what happens. The hope with this idea is that one could starve out the cartels while perhaps providing a path to rehabilitation.
All of that said, I am still a believer in the Rat Park experiment. If we solved some of our more real problems people perhaps wouldn't need to turn to such substances, as examples by the reports of drug use increasing under lockdown conditions. Reality seems to match the experiment. The thing about that experiment, they found if the rat's other needs were met (food, shelter, socialization) they actually would start to prefer normal water to drugged water again.
1. The most egregiously racist judges probably work in districts which they rarely encounter minorities.
2. Regions with large minority populations have to deal with much more crime in general, so may have lighter sentences for equally severe crimes.
3. Minorities are more likely to plead out and never go to trial, skewing sample size.
To be clear, I doubt that state judges are better than federal ones. After all, criminal justice corruption in smaller towns in America is staggering. Not too long ago, a judge was indicted for being bribed by the owners of a jail to hand down severe sentences to minority offenders.
If this evidence is provided, I am happy to agree with you that there is systematic racism in the justice system.
Don't be willfully ignorant and don't expect other people to do your homework.
Again, don't be willfully ignorant and don't expect other people to do your homework for you.
And the implications of this are what?
See, that's the problem with these claims. They serve no purpose other than to suggest that some people are inherently better or more deserving than others. But we live in a liberal democracy based on equality before the law. It wouldn't matter if some people are more predisposed to crime or smarter or whatever. The law should be blind.
This is an important implication because it completely undercuts many extremely important power structures, which use accusations of discrimination as their legitimizing argument. Which is why the science on this is resisted so hard.
The idea of anyone being inferior to anyone else is completely something you brought into the conversation. Normal people understand that being short does not make one inferior, nor does skin color, nor personality, nor intelligence. It just changes statistical outcomes. Not moral value.
If you think genetic differences between people make some people morally inferior, I would say that's a moral problem with you. Because even on the individual level, if not the group level, genetic differences are obvious and undeniable. Do you really think someone who scores low on an IQ test is morally inferior to you or deserves to suffer? I don't. If not, what's the problem with accepting the science on genetic group difference, especially given that it helps us reduce suffering in the world?
The US system probably is overly harsh -- in Ireland it's probaby overly lenient and the pendulum affect is that we've criminals being called in to court with literally hundreds of prior convictions and then they're let off with suspended sentences and then go straight back to what they were doing.
Equally frustrating -- to see the guilty just walk off and laugh as it is to see the redeemed struggle having conceded their mistakes. Justice is very important, hard and complex. I don't doubt that but their clearly is room for improvement on both sides.
That of course depends on your value system. There are many that consider sending an innocent person to jail far worse than letting a guilty person walk free, and I’m sure you can apply a similar worldview here as well.
If your legal system executes people, they are inseparable questions.
I would generalize to say that the more severe your sentences, the more those two questions are related.
If I get a parking ticket unjustly, it may piss me off, but it isn't a big deal. If I am convicted of a serious crime unjustly, it matters far more.
Whereas the grandparent, I think, is asserting the guilt or innocence is (or should be) an objective fact independent of what anyone does about it.
"Did Joe kill Dave?"
"Given that we've decided that Joe did kill Dave, what should Joe's punishment be?"
1) Did Joe steal that apple?
2a)Do we chop off Joe's hand, like law says?
2b)Do we make Joe repay the apple, and get community work?
(note that I'm a different 'throwaway' than the OP)
The US system is overly harsh to some groups of people and overly lenient to others, and the imbalance creates its own set of problems.
I would love to see sane prison reform based on data and science.
Incidents like these get in the national press precisely because they are rare and hence interesting. Do you think there are tens of people, hundred of people or thousands of people with >100 criminal convictions?
> Through its monopoly on violence, the State tends to pacify social relations.
Such pacification proceeded slowly in Western Europe between the 5th and 11th centuries,
being hindered by the rudimentary nature of law enforcement, the belief in a man’s right to
settle personal disputes as he saw fit, and the Church’s opposition to the death penalty.
These hindrances began to dissolve in the 11th century with a consensus by Church and
State that the wicked should be punished so that the good may live in peace. Courts
imposed the death penalty more and more often and, by the late Middle Ages, were
condemning to death between 0.5 and 1.0% of all men of each generation, with perhaps just
as many offenders dying at the scene of the crime or in prison while awaiting trial.
Meanwhile, the homicide rate plummeted from the 14th century to the 20th. The pool of
violent men dried up until most murders occurred under conditions of jealousy,
intoxication, or extreme stress. The decline in personal violence is usually attributed to
harsher punishment and the longer-term effects of cultural conditioning. It may also be,
however, that this new cultural environment selected against propensities for violence.
FWIW, it's not evenly distributed in the US. We have jurisdictions like Chicago where violent offenders are released on probation after a few months or years only to reoffend. Further, these violent crimes aren't evenly distributed across Chicago, but rather they disproportionately affect poor, typically minority communities. It's well-known that crime (esp violent) is driving businesses (and jobs) out of these communities and perpetuating the cycle of poverty. Presumably these light-on-crime policies (and similarly "defund the police") are a misguided attempt to help these communities, since the criminal justice system is biased against the poor and minorities (and men, but that seems to not factor into any calculus); however, they're exacerbating the very problem they purport to solve. Indeed, Chicago appears to be on track for its most violent year since the gang wars of the early nineties, after decades of consistent, remarkable, commendable progress.
For me, this underscores the importance of properly understanding the dynamics of the problem we're trying to solve--it's not sufficient to be well-intentioned or to have the right bumper sticker. It also highlights the importance of free-speech and open inquiry, since we can't collectively understand these dynamics without the kind of robust debate that proponents of political correctness and cancel culture aspire to suppress. And note that their intentions are presumably good--they don't want (at least some) hateful talking points to be espoused; however, the well-being of these communities isn't worth trading in exchange for the suppression of hateful talking points (never mind the more abstract reasons for preserving free speech, such as "what happens when your ideological cohort falls out of power and someone else gets to decide what speech is permissible?") and moreover prior to the mainstreaming of restrictive-speech ideals (let's say circa 2014-2015 but this is all pretty fuzzy), this really wasn't a problem--American society did a pretty good job of marginalizing those who would openly espouse hateful viewpoints (although some will advocate for a meaninglessly broad definition of 'hate' or would argue that any speech from anyone they don't like can fairly be considered a 'racist dogwhistle', but those kinds of bad faith arguments notwithstanding...) and things were gradually improving for everyone.
Anyway, I apologize for going a bit off track. Hopefully this stream-of-consciousness prompts productive discussion and introspection.
Most people that I talk to opposed to net neutrality are opposed it solely because this point is deeply concerning to them.
Broadly speaking, people are quick to give the government additional power when it aligns with their interests, but are critical of the government when the additional power is used for things they disagree with.
Chicago isn't a warzone. Last year I bought my first home here. I wouldn't live here if it were a warzone. But it does have problems and I have a vested interest in their resolution (or more realistically, reducing their impact). I think I explained pretty clearly how I see cancel culture, etc relating to these problems. If you have specific questions, I'm happy to try to answer (I don't claim perfect knowledge, I'm only sharing my perspective).
> "The well-being of these communities shouldn't be exchanged for free-speech(?)". I'm not even sure what the last point was meant to be about other than showing angst at the idea that racist comments are largely derided and marginalized.
I don't know how you got "angst at the idea that racist comments are largely derided and marginalized". I explicitly noted that marginalizing actual racism is a good thing. The problem is that a lot of necessary debate is considered beyond the pale such that we are only allowed to talk about the solutions which (pretty obviously) are only going to exacerbate the problem, such as reducing policing in the communities most in need and letting violent offenders out without the necessary rehabilitation. Your comment (inadvertently, I'm sure) lumps these concerns in with "racist comments", illustrating perfectly my issue with political correctness. I understand the desire for a simple worldview with a group of purely good guys and a group of purely bad guys, but I'm interested in solving real world problems and the real world has a lot of nuance to be explored. We have to be able to talk about that nuance in order to solve these problems. We're not doing these communities any favors by avoiding unpleasant complexities.
edit: Of course, universities still don't hire violent offenders, but I don't think the reasons for not employing a Twitter-pariah and not employing a murderer are closely related at all.
- The standard of proof in criminal law is very high. There are very specific definitions of most criminal acts and these must be proven "beyond reasonable doubt"
- The definition of "racist tweet" on the other hand is as fuzzy as it can be. Usually it drills down to "someone whom I don't like said something that I have interpreted in the way I don't like"
If we think that racist tweets should bear harsh consequences, we need a bit better criteria of what "racist" actually means.
More recent nongovernmental sources paint a very similar picture 
So whatever your feeling about the standard of proof in a criminal trial, the vast majority of those incarcerated never actually went through one.
Society has switched what it is racist about many times in the past. Just 100 years ago (WWI was just over) it was worse to be German than black in the US. Someone told me that in the 1870s the KKK had many black members - the group was against Catholics not blacks, but they changed (I do not know if this is true, but even if false it isn't unlikely). It will switch again.
Whatever your law is needs to cover all cases, otherwise it will be worked around quickly.
It wasn't until the revival of the "second wave" of the KKK during 1910's and 1920's that they even started taking on anti-catholic stances. It was during this era that the burning cross, anti-communist, anti-catholic and anti-jewish stances came into being.
Finally, I have no idea where you got the idea that the KKK had "many black members". As far as I'm aware, no credible evidence for that has ever been put forward.
The whole idea of these rules is to avoid discriminating people based on something outside of their control: color, gender, height, age, country of origin and so on.
The definition of "bad things" is left as an exercise to the reader.
It seems like quite the tall order, but then humanity has a very long list of conquered tall orders, because some people were willing to pursue the "impossible", and we also happen to be blessed with some very powerful tools (some of which often work against us).
This is nice theory which in practice often comes down to: you can not afford proper defense (unless you want government lawyer who will happily sleep through the whole case), you do not have enough to make bail so here is the deal: plead guilty to this lesser crime or we would f,,k you up royally later on.
Case in point for this specific case it was violent crime, which I'm sure we can all agree is way worse than a racist tweet.
According to the Federal Bureau of Prisons, 46.2% of inmates are in for drug offenses and there is definitely disagreement about whether that should be a crime, let alone an extreme crime. Additionally, 78.6% of inmates are serving sentences longer than 5 years, which by necessity means that a large portion of those are for drug offenses.
Among those in state prisons, drug possession is about 3% of cases (about equal to DUI plus fraud cases). Other drug charges make up about 10%.
You're going to need to source that unbelievably low number.
In my state, drug crimes represent the second largest proportion of prison inmates - a bit fewer than criminal sexual conduct a bit more than homicide: https://mn.gov/doc/assets/Adult%20Prison%20Population%20Summ...
Minnesota's 17% isn't that far off the national number it seems. They don't give a breakdown for simple possession. Violent crimes at 55% are again a majority.
You're unlikely to find any realistic statistics on usage vs "distribution" due to that.
If only that were accurate. Prison time in the US is not given out in proportion to the seriousness of the crime, and the amount of prison time is highly variable depending on locale, race of offender, race of victim, and many other factors.
But percentage-wise, when you add up federal, state, and local prisons and jails, drugs are not as large a percentage as you'd think. Another half million people in prisons or jails haven't been convicted of any crime at all, either because they can't afford bail or because they're just being processed today. If you had to guess what someone went to jail for, and you only knew they were in a State penitentiary, violent crime would be your best guess.
Here's a bit pie chart: https://www.prisonpolicy.org/reports/pie2020.html
I would argue (having been in jail myself multiple times, and, by the way, thanks to a lot of factors, now very happily and gainfully employed) that drugs are at the very least a co-factor on the vast majority of crimes in the USA.
What I'd like to see is the junkie to just get drugs from the government. It's cheaper for society to pay for a $20 fix (That costs $2 to produce), then for $500 dollars in property damage, a stolen $200 item that gets fenced for $20, a cop to show up to do a police report, and then, months down the road, an arrest, prison time, etc, etc.
The same thing is true about the homeless. Homeless services are expensive. It's cheaper to get them apartments, even if you still offer them all of the support services you were offering before.
But whenever you propose these things, social conservatives seem to come out of the woodwork and argue that it's not fair for prisoners or homeless people to get expensive stuff for free. Why should you get something good for doing a bad thing? Why should the homeless guy get an apartment that you'd paying $1000 a month for? Why should your taxes be buying drugs for that junkie? Even if you have to spend more taxes by not giving them these things, your sense of justice demands it be so.
We already do that, though, through things like food stamps and section 8 housing. It's expensive, but it works, because it keeps a lot of poor people fed and sheltered.
The visible homeless that you see are people who tend to have additional problems, on top of being poor (Untreated addiction and mental health problems are two big causes of this.)
For instance it could be a junky who needs to feed his own habit. It could be that the profits available from dealing in some area motivate gangs to take control of it. And it could also be just that people taking drugs have impaired judgement, and do things they would avoid while sober. Would you care to guess how much of each goes on?
For alcohol, I guess it's mainly the 3rd (DUI, and manslaughter, etc.) and a tiny bit of the 1st (shoplifting to buy a drink).
I know correlation doesn't imply causation, but that's not the argument I'm making here.
Further, because there would be shorter sentences, you're far more likely to encounter a candidate with a lesser sentence.
Do you think we all agree that these are extreme crimes?
Perhaps this comes because a murder can be seen as a sad result of circumstances. Perhaps the criminal only had to murder because they had a bad upbringing and needed the cash and it was a horrible mistake. On the other hand, people perceived as racist are permanently marked as being ideologically dangerous. Mainly, I think this comes because racist tweeters can be seen as more directly responsible for their actions than a murderer.
Of course, this line of reasoning is nonsense, but it appears to be quite common.
Jon Ronson has a great TED talk about this, titled "How one tweet can ruin your life": https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wAIP6fI0NAI. I would recommend that the grandparent post watch this.
a) Understand violent criminals have made amends and are rehabilitated
b) Believe that people who were once racist are no longer racist
Both issues are, to me, a 'sad result of circumstances'. So all of that seems fine.
The point I was trying to make was that there isn't really a "path to rehabilitation" for people who have made very minor missteps online. In the case of the linked TED talk, the persecuted woman made a mistake, and was not a "career-racist". I think even accusing her of racism is a distortion of the word — she made a bad joke in bad taste.
Meanwhile, there is an established, albeit broken path to rehabilitation for ex-convicts. There is also a certain faction of the left which seems to be more willing to accept prison reform than "tweet-reform".
I think it should be far more easy to rehabilitate oneself from a bad tweet than a murder, and that they are entirely different classes of offences.
You can say that all "though crimes" are incomparable to legal indictments, and when you are hiring people that is your right as well.
I mean that it takes a particularly screwed up and deranged individual to think that murder and racist thoughts are somehow equivalent on the moral scale. Also, I'm not claiming that this is the position you are taking, only that it would be deranged if it is the one you are in fact taking.
Trying to consider any of these things in isolation is worthless and not really something that makes sense to discuss, it's just a sillier version of the trolley problem. Context is going to be everything.
Could someone convicted of murder be worth hiring? Yeah, sure, I'm not willing to say that that's not the case - what if they had an untreated medical condition, just as one potential contextual element? It's not worth discussing because it will end up with a "but what if but what if but what if".
The point I will definitely make is the original point I made - that if I determine someone to be a racist that is important to me, and if I find that someone is a criminal I will need more context before I determine that it is important to me.
Murder is a very clearly defined criminal act, to tweet something racist is an expression of free speech. Racism is inexcusable, but in an entirely different way than murder.
I don't think this is necessarily true. We just haven't seen many racist people make amends and ask for forgiveness. I believe people can change and if they do, they should be reintegrated into the workplace.
I hadn't given it much thought before, but I asked myself if I would hire or work with a former criminal qualified for the job. It's a touchy subject, but I decided I would if they are rehabilitated: shown remorse, served a sentence, and working to integrate society.
And I realized the same goes for a racist statement (or sexist or anti-LGBTQ). Racism get tried in the court of public opinion, and then there is a sentence of being shunned in the form of unemployability. But if the formerly racist person shows remorse and publicly states they have changed, I would be willing to hire/work with them.
To rehabilitate someone who made a joke in bad taste should be far, far easier than to rehabilitate a murderer. The two just cannot be equivocated. One is a criminal act, the other is expressing an opinion, albeit a very bad one.
There's also a problem with the verb "to rehabilitate" because much of the rehabilitation comes from the subject themselves and can't be imposed by society. The murderer who serves time, shows remorse, and studies programming to reintegrate society is different from the racist who doesn't apologize sincerely or believably for the bad joke and complains that nobody will hire them.
Finally, look at the environment that the rehabilitated person gets put into. Someone who got into drugs and gangs as a teen, went to prison, and then turned their life around is not a threat in an office environment. A racist or sexist may still cause disruption in a diverse and gender-equal work environment. The ex-gang member can't go back to the 'hood, but the racist or sexist has made it much more difficult to work in any office--or with people so that's pretty much any job. Though like I said, if they apologize and repent, I think the racist should be given a second chance as well.
Placed in high government office?
You're right. Your line of reasoning is nonsense.
0 - https://www.linkedin.com/in/justinesacco
This is pretty demonstrably untrue. Cenk Uygur comes to mind, off the top of my head - he's lost out on opportunities from things he said in the past that were perceived as racist, but nobody in good faith / nobody who matters considers him to continue to espouse those views. It helps that he quite vocally criticizes those views.
What is probably actually true is that, statistically, many people who were racist in the past are still racist, and many people who murdered in the past and went to prison commit no further violent crimes (for many reasons).
Well, this is the big part that's missing from the story.
13 years seems like it was a big deal.
Is it even legal to ask someone who was in prison what their crime was during an interview?
But UK convictions become 'spent' after a certain amount of time (Depending on the length of the prison sentence served, with 4+ year sentences never becoming spent) after which they leave the person's basic criminal record, and there's no obligation to tell a prospective employer about them.
Only a few jobs (such as teaching) are allowed info on spent convictions.
I have no interest in discussing who is or isn't racist, I'm saying that an already defined as racist tweet would be something worth considering in a hiring process.
whereas what you're calling "thought crime" is more analogous to saying "i intend to commit statutory crimes in the future".
The reason why people lose their jobs for racist tweets is because companies are reacting to the emotional sentiment of the masses and pulling a PR maneuver.
In short, for commercial jobs, it doesn't matter your crime, or the degree of your crime or whether you committed a crime at all, it's about business and a negative public emotional mood against you at this current point in time is usually bad for business (or stock prices).
Case in point, Let's say hypothetically that the OP could have mentioned that this woman's violent crime was repeatedly beating a 8 year old child for no reason and the public's emotional reaction would be drastically different. I'm not sure what her crime really was, but there is definitely a reason why it was omitted: The OP likely made a rational judgement about the crime and is likely very aware that the emotional reaction to the crime by the masses would be drastically different than her own rational judgement... thus from this line of reasoning she has chosen not to mention what the crime was.
It's a fine line here. I think if I really got to know a person and I can really understand a person, I feel even a child beater or can be redeemed in my eyes but I can see how in the eyes of the public this can never happen. (Also let's be clear here, I'm not saying the womans crime was beating a child, just using that as an example).
People are rarely rational and when you measure the reactions of people in response to stimuli in aggregate you will find that the bigger the aggregate the more emotional the reaction is.
This is how a criminal who committed a violent crime can get public support for finding a job, and an innocent man who made a mistake and wrote a stupid tweet can lose any prospect at finding a future career.
I would much rather hire someone who grew up poor and fell in with gangs and felt pressured to join in an armed robbery 10 years ago and understands that it's wrong than someone who had a demonstrated bias against some minority 10 years ago and still does today. This isn't about whether they're a "good person" or anything, this is a mercenary calculation based on business value. I don't expect the former gang member is going to engage in similar violent crimes if I employ them. I do expect the biased person is going to have trouble working productively with people in my company who are part of that minority or is going to negatively impact those folks' productivity.
I'm not in the business of determining the magnitude of your moral transgressions. That stays in the confessional. I'm in the business of hiring folks who will deliver business value.
But past that, the general principle you advocate seems to be "try not to hire people who will not be able to work with others", right? It doesn't matter whether they're biased against minorities or non-minorities, as long as they're biased and will be acting irrationally in ways that piss off those around them.
One is an accidental mishap due to the extreme cruelty and unfairness of our modern society.
The other one is a sincerely held unacceptable belief which endangers the progress of humanity.
Well, not sitting-in-the-oval-office people, but anyway.
Thus, why would you consider having a criminal record to be "a [big] blemish" that justifies employment discrimination, yet no personal views extreme enough to allow an employer to disassociate from their employee?
When you consider that the ratio of those affected by criminal record-based employment discrimination to those impacted by twitter-based discrimination is on the order of millions to one, it seems strange to be more concerned about the latter than the former.
It became a problem when we hired someone with a record of fraud... who had not disclosed it. And who would have had access to credit card info. He was promptly fired.
We were willing to work with him, and said as much. He wasn't willing to take the risk. So he took a bigger one, and lost.
It's worse than that. I've been denied an apartment for having an arrest on my record, even though I wasn't convicted.
We DO need more of this. It's going to take a lot of time and effort, and (sorry growth hackers) it won't scale.
Instead of hitting the weights every day, they can engage in productive learning. We all benefit.
Interestingly, that's less than half what it is in Australia and UK.