Recently in class, we discussed the issue of leaving off the question about criminal history on job applications. I found this extremely interesting in light of recent events at Indiana University in Bloomington. This past week was what IU students like to refer to as “the greatest college week in America” or better known as Little 500. While the premise of the week is rooted in the bike races for both men and women, much of the attention was shifted to cover the story of the murder of Hannah Wilson. Thursday night, Hannah was heading to a very popular bar in Bloomington called Kilroy’s when her friends decided she was too inebriated to enter so they put her in a cab. Parked outside of the bar was a man in a car that appeared to look like a cab, so the friends paid for the cab upfront and Hannah gave her address to the driver. Everything appeared normal as the driver dropped her off and she put her keys and phone on the counter once she entered her home. However, the night took a turn for the worse when Hannah’s friends came home to see her stuff on the kitchen counter but could not find their friend. They sent out a missing persons alert which was not sent out to the community until a person found a dead body in Brown County, just south of Bloomington.
After further investigation, the body was confirmed to be Hannah’s and she died from blunt force trauma to her head just weeks away from graduation. The murderer was found hours later on Friday night due to a cell phone left by her body. When authorities went to question Daniel Messel, 49-year-old white male living in Bloomington, they found blood and hair in his vehicle, as well as claw marks on his arms. This man has a long history of domestic violence and aggravated assault charges on his record and has been in and out of jail. The media outcry hours after the story broke blamed Uber because word had gotten out that he was an Uber driver, but Uber came forth and said they had now history of this man working for them nor would he have gotten the job with his criminal background. So, this makes me really think no we should not get rid of the background check on people when applying for jobs.
Based on this story, it seems the background check saves companies from hiring someone with this extensive criminal history. However, we have read and discussed how this is not always the case. Some ‘criminals’ are convinced to take the plea deal even though they did not commit a certain crime. Some ‘criminals’ are not in fact criminals and others get brought in on minor infractions but pay more time based on their race. Therefore, this leads me to question: what would the scenario be like if Messel were black? Would he have paid more time in jail for his crimes? Would he have even been allowed out? How would the media reaction differ?