Thursday, August 19, 2010

Criminal Records

The increasing availability of criminal records to increase public safety through knowledge, is a good thing, but it imposes the responsibility—which should not be considered an imposition—for reformed criminals to accept the stringent requirements society places on them as just recompense for their crimes and seek housing and work where ever they can find them, rather than relying on the expectations enjoyed by the law-abiding.

This story from the Salt Lake Tribune examines the issue.

An excerpt.

“Ogden • Not only was Joseph Sambrano following the rules of his parole, he was doing so well he received a job as a security guard at his apartment building. …

“Despite that, Ogden City wants Sambrano out of Park Avenue. Building management will evict him to save money.

“Park Avenue belongs to the Ogden Good Landlord program, which discounts business licenses for landlords who follow its rules, and having tenants on probation or parole is a violation.

“Sambrano does not know where he and his nephew will go next.

“I’ve talked to about 30 [landlords],” Sambrano said. “As soon as I tell them I’m a felon, they say, ‘Can’t do it.’ ”

“At least three other people on probation or parole have to move from Park Avenue, too.

“The phenomenon is not confined to Park Avenue or Ogden.

“In March, a Salt Lake Tribune investigation found a lack of halfway houses and treatment centers has collided with local housing laws. The result is probationers and parolees — whether they have been convicted of sex crimes, murder, theft or drug offenses — find fewer places in Utah where they can live and congregate in the same neighborhoods or buildings despite rules prohibiting them from associating with one another.

“The housing shortage is acute in Ogden, which has a disproportionately high number of felons in part because it has one of only four halfway houses in Utah. The others are in Salt Lake City.

“The offenders need to find jobs to stay in the halfway house, and those jobs can keep them in Ogden even after they leave the house.

“In 2005, Ogden began its Good Landlord program to reduce crimes and nuisances. It gives participating landlords discounts on business licenses if they conduct credit and criminal-background checks on potential tenants and disqualify anyone on probation or parole for a felony conviction….

“The Utah Department of Corrections is aware of some of the housing problems that Sambrano and other probationers and parolees have.

“As different areas adopt these policies, it unfortunately can deter offenders from turning their lives around,” Corrections spokesman Steve Gehrke said in a written statement. “They already have several stressors to overcome upon parole. …

“At the same time, we recognize that the city and its individual apartment complexes have an interest in securing their neighborhoods, and we will continue to support them in the important role of protecting public safety.”