Wiping the slate clean after serving time

Regarding "Ex-felons see criminal records as a 'life sentence' " (April, 1): Taxpayers pay for the education, room and board, and trials of felons. After all costs have been repaid, we can expunge their criminal records.

In regard to Sharon Lattiker's desire to be a school principal after having been convicted of a felony for a check-writing scandal, we have an obligation to children and to this country to provide the finest education and the best examples in leadership. The stigma of having committed a felony will follow you. And that only increases the need to consider the consequences of one's actions before committing an offense.
Charles R. Dickens
Phoenix, Ariz.

I agree wholeheartedly with clearing people's criminal records once they've shown they can and will be an asset to society. I personally employ two convicted felons who have been clean and out of trouble for more than 10 years. They have both told me that on numerous occasions their "past records" have been their downfalls in attempting to better themselves and their families' lives. The idea of clearing criminal records has my vote 100 percent. As far as my employees are concerned, I trust them with anything I have.
William Gower Louisburg, N.C.

At 19, while in college, I bought a TV from a guy who had a fake business license and who gave me a receipt for my purchase. It came up stolen and I was charged with a felony – "theft by receiving." I have since graduated with a B.S. in business, yet due to this felony conviction, I can't find a job.

Nonviolent felonies – excluding drugs and/or fraud – should be erased after the completion of a sentence. I would understand a banker wanting to know if he is hiring someone with a history of check fraud or a pharmacist wanting to know if he's hiring an ex-drug dealer.

For these types of crimes, a record should be kept. But in cases like mine, is it right for an employer to not consider an interview because he sees the word felony on a background check?

One way to handle this categorization, and yet maintain one's right to privacy would be a color-coding system. When employers conduct a background check, each applicant would have a color code:

White – no record.

Yellow – nonviolent felony (acceptable for employment).

Green – nonviolent felony (drugs or fraud).

Red – murder, molestation, or rape.

This would allow employers to know about the people they are hiring yet not violate a person's right to privacy.
Pete Evans Hephzibah, Ga.

Creating energy targets for terrorists

Regarding "Energy security: It takes more than drilling" (Opinion, March 29): Air-defense commanders protect military aircraft by dispersing them, thus lowering the odds of one strike dealing a crippling blow. Financial security experts counsel their clients to hold diversified portfolios, to hedge against losing everything if one company goes under.

So why is the security-conscious Bush administration promoting continued concentration of vital energy resources into infrastructures that make targets for terrorists?

Real energy security comes from producing more out of existing resources, then diversifying into dispersed technologies such as wind turbines, solar generators, and factory micro-turbines. For an energy policy to be truly conservative, it must be based on efficiency and diversification of resources.
Jim DiPeso Deerfield, Ill.Republicans for Environmental Protection

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