There are strong words of caution being issued to the Jamaican public about attitudes towards persons who have been convicted and are seeking to re-establish themselves in society.
Attorney-at-Law Emile Leiba is recommending the two-step approach of legislative and attitude changes to create a better environment for ex-convicts at all levels.
The recommendation is in the context of Carolyn Warren, Managing Director of the state-run National Energy Solutions Limited (NESOL), acknowledging that she did not declare her decades old drug conviction prior to her appointment.
The revelation has ignited fresh public debate about how society treats ex-convicts and the restrictions often imposed on them.
Leiba argues that the laws could be amended to be more forgiving, but so too should the Jamaican society.
He has also proposed an approach that can be taken in such situations, particularly by employers faced with the question of hiring an ex-convict.
“I don’t think there is one general statement that can cover everything but on a case by case basis we can look at the previous conviction. If you have been shown not to be a good fiduciary of funds, I don’t think you should be put in charge of funds,” said Leiba who was a guest on Friday's edition of Beyond the Headlines.
Meanwhile, Dr. Sandra Palmer, CEO and Senior Partner at the job consultancy firm, Above or Beyond, believes, in the work environment, it is recommended that convictions be declared.
This is because despite the ability to expunge a criminal record, convictions may be revealed by other sources.
“These employers are going to subject the candidate to a complete background check. That is a given….. Jamaica is a very small society, information gets around. Even if it is expunged, it is not expunged from google or anywhere else - you can find it online.”
On the same issuee, Carla Gullotta, Coordinator for Stand up for Jamaica, disclosed that her organization's stance is that persons who have paid for their crimes, should not be punished for the rest of their lives.
However, she says the current situation is a delicate one, given the office Warren now holds.
Gullotta says she hopes the conviction is not the only factor taken into consideration in determining Warren's fate.
She also said Warren should have disclosed her drug conviction when she applied for the job.