Ohio Effort To Put Ex-Cons To Work Helps Hide Their Criminal Past


UPDATED: Thursday January 31, 2013 6:39 PM

Dan Hardiman believes that felons make good employees. In fact, he said he’ll only hire them.

“Two years, we're well over a hundred people now,” said Hardiman who owns five Tim Horton’s.

Hardiman said that giving people a second chance has proven a smart business decision thanks to a federal tax credit of $2,400 for every ex-con he hires.

“They understand not everyone is willing to give them a chance, and they're willing to bust their butt, and you're not going to regret this,” added Hardiman.

Last year, Ohio Attorney General Mike Dewine encouraged the passage of a law that made it easier for ex-cons to become employed by sealing some criminal records.

Seven months later, he realized it's created a huge problem.

“It scares me to death, and I don't like it,” said AG DeWine.

His office found 25 cases where people with crimes like rape, arson, burglary were told by their employer that they have no record.

Some had applied for jobs in day care centers, nursing homes, and even a school district.

“Frankly, I don't think any of us caught this. We should have caught this when it was going through the legislature,” said DeWine.

He said the law prevents the state from reporting some juvenile crimes like rape or adults who may be wanted.

“Unless there's been a conviction, I can't report it,” added DeWine.

He said that until the law is changed, employers may want to rely on other background check databases to make sure they know who they're hiring.

“We’ve got to plug these holes,” said DeWine.

For Hardiman, he said he is not worried about hiring ex-cons at his stores and plans to hire more.

“I have choice whether I'm going to hire ex-felons or not, and it's a no brainer that I'm going to continue this,” said Hardiman.

The state prison system has set up one stop job centers for ex-cons to help them with resume writing and interviewing skills.

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