Saturday, April 21, 2012


Paris, right outside the Louvre (above)

Eiffel Tower during  a hazy afternoon (left)
This past summer I went on a family trip to Paris. Right outside The Louvre, the famous art museum that holds work such as the Mona Lisa, was a park that fed into an assembly square with a ferris wheel. Without a doubt the scenery was outstanding, however, this photograph does not present the sweat dripping down my forehead from the unbearable heat we experienced that day or the two men who were at a violent verbal joust (speaking in French however, which was good because it provided relief, especially for my younger sister, from all the profanity they were surely using) right near us. Don't get me wrong, my first day in France was breathtaking; being exposed to a different culture and an unfamiliar scenery was a life changing experience.

Later that day I had a taste of my first real French coffee and rode on the Metro (compare it to BART during commute hours, cramped, but also swarming with chatter and live music) and then made a visit to the Eiffel Tower, where you get the a magnificent view of the city, able to spot out the ferris wheel to the left, now decorated with an assortment of lights, and then turning around to be greeted by the famed Arc de Triomphe.

The rest of the five-day trip was spent touring the city, visiting the Sacred Heart and Notre Dame Cathedrals, visiting the French markets, where you can buy anything from clothing and fresh produce to pirated movies and other black market items. Evenings were spent near the hotel, a small two-room suite with an unbelievably heavy door (violation of fire codes, no?), watching television, especially soccer (the Women's World Cup was taking place during the time), and marveling at the view from the hotel balcony.

In the end, the day was a success, and again, being introduced to a different part of the world had been my favorite part of the day.  

And It Begins...

Freedom and Justice Pre-Essay

The “Ban the Box” movement proposes that an employer cannot question potential employees about criminal history until after the first interview. This brings up interesting arguments for both sides. Employers need to know their employees before they hire them, so they can make the best educated decision. If an employer is not allowed to know his potential employees he could put the company, those who work there, and those which the company serves at risk. An employer’s ability to know their employees is an important part of their rights.

What A Happy Guy!
On the other hand, criminals who have served their sentence and have been released have rights as well. The term “Innocent Until Proven Guilty,” which our country’s justice system supports, could be argued for either side. The felons who have served their time have, at one point, been proven guilty, but should this start over after they complete their jail time? I think it should. The purpose of jail is to repair damaged citizens and return them to normal society. If we don’t allow them to actually return to normal society after they complete their jail time, then jail has no purpose.

Only the first impression of a new employee is protected by the “Ban the Box” movement. This could promote rehabilitation of convicts, as many employers immediately reject those who check yes on the box, without looking deeper in to the person’s history, or meeting them. If felons are not given a chance to integrate back into society, it is much more likely they will return to the state of desperation that led them to crime in the first place. Around 60% of criminals return to jail after they are released, but is this caused by them not being changed, or them being put in a state of desperation when they cannot get a job to support themselves? I think both cases can be true. Some criminals do not find reparations for themselves during their time in jail, and are not capable of returning to a normal life. There are also many criminals who, after going to prison, see the error of their ways and are fully ready to start a new life. These people should have the rights to actually start that new life, but those who do not redeem themselves in jail ruin that chance.

Hard at Work
The “Ban the Box” movement is a good idea for reintegrating criminals in to society, but I do not think it will help much. Some employers do not base their hiring decisions around the yes or no answer in the box, but instead look deeper in to the crime and its history. In the other extreme, many employers are not willing to take the risk of hiring an ex criminal on the chance that they have not corrected their ways. “Ban the Box” would not help in that case, as these employers would just wait until after the first interview, when they could investigate criminal history, to make any final decisions about hiring a new employee. “Ban the Box” would not have a large effect on either of these types of employers. I think the “Ban the Box” movement has good values, but it needs further refining before it is ready to be put in to place.