Sidebar: Opinions about Second Chances
To find out what some Minnesotans think about the issues raised in the The Right Focus On... Crime, Justice and Second Chances, producers put some questions to people they met near the University of Minnesota. Below are the questions and answers featured in the video.
Play Video (60 min each)
Sidebar Transcript: Opinions About Second Chances
Question: Does an employer have the right to know about a job applicant's criminal background?
Answer: I don't know about if the employer should know about it. I would say no, they shouldn't, because it doesn't give the felon a fair chance at getting employment, and the felon, again, has paid his debt or her debt and has been through the system, has completed their parole.
Answer: Yes, I think it should be disclosed, unless it was committed when they were a minor -- not that it should prohibit them from getting the employment.
Answer: I don't mind that they know about it, but I don't think they should just use that as a reason to throw the person out the door.
Answer: If this person has been well rehabbed to the society, I think it's up to the employer to make that decision, but I do believe that they should know the background.
Question: Does a landlord have the right to know about a job applicant's criminal background?
Answer: I think the landlord shouldn't worry about if they were in jail. They have already paid their price in jail for ten years.
Answer: No, they do not. Unless it's like, a sex crime with a child or something, it's none of the landlord's business.
Answer: I think a landlord's different. I think everyone should have a right to live wherever they want, no matter what.
Answer: I don't know. I think that when you make the choice to commit that crime, you know that for the rest of your life, you're going to have to check that box that says "felon," so it's kind of something that you willingly go into.
Question: Does Minnesota imprison too many people?
Answer: I think there's a lot of crimes out there that necessarily don't deserve jail sentencing and more are social problems than criminal problems. For instance, marijuana. I think that's a social problem and that it should be (addressed) through education and treatment.
Answer: Too many (people). For example, the people that protested outside the Republican convention. For heaven's sakes, you should be allowed to protest in this country.
Answer: Too many people in jail. As you can see, our prisons are growing rapidly.
Answer: Well, 70% of recreational drug users in jail are people of color. Use is evenly distributed in the population, and they're only 17% of the general population.
Question: Should a felon have the right to have their record expunged?
Answer: I think murder should be on there, but if they do their time—if they went through parole correctly and followed the right procedures, I think they should—I think they should maybe have it expunged.
Answer: Ideally—once they've paid their debt and they were done with parole and, again, done with the Department of Correctional system.
Answer: I think it should still be there, just like my credit rating goes back so many years. I think it's something they've done. It's part of their past.
Answer: I think that the opportunity should exist, but there must be some kind of rules or something set in place so that it's consistent and so that you can see the progress that's being made and just be able to monitor it.