Public safety is the first and foremost responsibility of government. North Carolinians want their public officials to do what is required — pass laws, appropriate funds, administer courts and prisons — to protect our persons and property.
But we taxpayers also want our public officials to discharge these responsibilities at a reasonable cost. And we certainly don’t want other public policies to interfere with the protection of public safety.
Unfortunately, North Carolina currently has some policies working at cross purposes with each other. On the one hand, it is very much in the public interest to reduce the likelihood that convicts will return to a life of crime. On the other hand, well-meaning lawmakers and regulators have made it hard for North Carolinians with arrest records to enter some occupations — the argument being that they might endanger the consuming public.
No one would dispute there are some jobs that are ill suited for those who’ve served time in jail or prison. Would you hire a convict as a security guard or financial auditor? Perhaps not. But turning a prudential judgment into a state mandate and then applying it to many hundreds of occupations seems like overkill to me.