Johns Hopkins proudly employs convicted killers

The PBS NewsHour (at the 9-minute mark) last night had an inspiring story about a black church that helps ex-cons get jobs.  The program focused on a sympathetic obese black lady named Cally Thomas.  She's soft-spoken, she dresses well, and she even dyed her hair blonde like Beyoncé.  We're still somewhat sympathetic even after we learned that Cally Thomas is a convicted killer because, as NewsHour assures us, the murder was "domestic violence-related," so maybe she won't kill anyone else except boyfriends.  But then we learn where Cally has a job – as a janitor at John Hopkins Hospital.

That's very disturbing.  A hospital is full of patients, some of whom are helpless and/or unconscious.  It would be easy for them to be assaulted or robbed.  Places that have children or helpless people should not employ ex-cons, especially violent ex-cons.

But Johns Hopkins has no problem with that.  Between five and ten percent of jobs at the hospital are held by convicted criminals.  What's going to happen the first time they get hit by a lawsuit from a patient who was robbed or attacked by one of their staff?  Theft of patients' property in hospitals is quite common, and now we have an explanation for it.

Ex-convicts should have jobs, of course.  But there are plenty of jobs they can get that don't involve vulnerable populations.  They can work as janitors, as Cally does (but not in hospitals or schools).  They can work in restaurants.  They can work in retail, under supervision.  They can work in construction, in warehouses, as receptionists, or in low-level administrative capacities in the government  They can also work in factories or in service jobs.

Here's an interesting list of companies that hire felons, which includes Apple, American Airlines, Trader Joe's, Uber, and Federal Express.

Hiring felons is politically correct but not always appropriate.  What do you think?  Would you want to be a patient in a hospital that employs convicted criminals?  If you were going in for surgery, would you bring some pepper spray with you, just in case?

Ed Straker is the senior writer at

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