Ban the Box removes ‘jail bird’ stigma; promotes fair hiring policies

January 04, 2016

St. Louis American

By: Sandra Jordan

Nationwide, over 100 cities and 19 states have enacted Ban the Box policies so that employers will first consider a job candidate’s qualifications. St. Louis, Kansas City and Columbia, Missouri have enacted Ban the Box legislation for city government jobs. In State Senator Jamilah Nasheed sponsored a Ban the Box bill (SB 724) last session, but it did not make it out of committee. Nasheed said the bill received a lot of pushback because many Missouri legislators did not understand what I was trying to do and thought it meant that employers could not ask about if individuals have ever been convicted of a felony.

“We were not trying to hid that information; we just said basically, that should not be on the front end of the application,” Nasheed said. “Give them the opportunity to go in, get through the first interview, and you would still have the authority or the right to ask if they have ever been convicted.”

Nasheed said she and other advocates asked Governor Jay Nixon to do a Ban the Box executive order.

“Right now, they are reviewing how they can get it done,” Nasheed said. “Hopefully the governor will step up to the plate, do the right thing and take that off the applications for the state department and throughout the state of Missouri.”

The Missouri Department of Corrections states 20,000 inmates earn release back into the community annually, and at some point in time, 97 percent of the incarcerated population will be released back into Missouri communities. If offenders are released without the appropriate and necessary tools to be productive members of society, the department said they have a greater potential re-offend.  The most recent recidivism rate is 44.9 percent for all releases.

“The bill didn’t pass but I’m going to file it again; I truly believe that if we’re able to give them those opportunities in terms of employment, then we would see, one – the recidivism rate go down,” and  it would reduce the amount of crime in communities, Nasheed added.


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