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Can Convicted Criminals Work for the Government?


Question: Can convicted criminals work for the government?

Answer: Yes, convicted criminals can work for the government. You can insert your own politician joke here, but a criminal conviction is not necessarily a bar to government employment.  

Government organizations ask applicants about their criminal histories. This is important information to hiring managers. They need to know the circumstances around a conviction to determine whether the crime results in an automatic disqualification of the applicant or if they have discretion to keep the applicant in the hiring process. Managers consult with human resources staff when making these determinations.

Some managers find it easier to disqualify anyone convicted of a crime rather than analyze the facts around each conviction cited on an application. This is unfortunate because those who have served their sentences have paid their debts to society. Almost all released criminals need employment to become functional participants in society.

While convicted criminals may land a government job, some convictions prevent a person from holding particular types of government jobs. For example, someone convicted of indecency with a child would not be allowed to work as a child protective services caseworker. Also, someone convicted of a felony cannot be a prison guard with the US Bureau of Prisons or any other correctional system.

Criminal convictions do not prohibit an individual from working in government. However, convictions limit a person’s options because some convictions are grounds for an applicant to be eliminated from the hiring process. 

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