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State lawmakers want to give past arrestees a chance to work

Getting arrested doesn't just impact a person by threatening him with a potential criminal charge, conviction and sentencing. A mere arrest, even without a conviction, can change a person's life. Many in the public will see him differently. Jobs might be harder to secure.

In fact, there is a box on some New Jersey job applications that asks applicants whether they've been arrested before. Senators in the state don't like that aspect of job applications and are fighting to do away with it.

Anyone can be arrested for a crime if law enforcement has enough evidence to go on. But an arrest is not the same as being charged or convicted. No guilt is associated with it. And even for those who have been convicted of a crime in New Jersey, should that conviction forever set them up to fail in their communities?

Finding work is an important part of preventing one-time offenders from becoming repeat offenders. One lawmaker in support of changing the New Jersey hiring process warns, "An ex-offender who has had doors slammed in his face won't be an ex-offender for long - he'll be a repeat offender."

Lawmakers call the effort to change job applications "ban the box." Employers would still run background checks on their applicants, but more applicants would be able to get their foot in the door of a job opportunity by not having to reveal that they'd been arrested right away.

People make mistakes and bad decisions that can lead to a criminal arrest. Misunderstandings can also lead to criminal arrests in New Jersey. Our criminal defense attorneys can help mitigate legal situations, but it takes an entire system and ideas like this one perhaps to create the best outcome for all involved.

Source: The Jersey Journal, "NJ senators want to eliminate 'arrest' check boxes on job applications: Star-Ledger," Feb. 7, 2013

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