KC will consider 'ban the box,' taking criminal history questions off job applications

03/25/2013 5:37 PM

05/20/2014 10:41 AM

A small group of city council members, pastors and crime prevention advocates rallied Monday in favor of banning questions on applications about job candidates’ criminal histories.

The “ban the box” effort has been embraced by seven states and more than 40 cities, said City Councilman Jermaine Reed, who is sponsoring the proposal. It will be considered by city council members on Wednesday.

The measure would eliminate the need for city job applicants to check a box if they have a criminal background.

“We believe that people are more than their criminal record,” Reed said. He emphasized that the city would still do background checks before hiring anyone, but checking the box would not automatically disqualify someone from consideration.

Reed was joined by council colleagues John Sharp and Michael Brooks and by members of the Kansas City Crime Commission and several faith groups.

Sharp, who chairs the council’s public safety committee, said he thinks the measure would actually enhance public safety because people who have paid their debt to society still need to be able to find employment after they are released from prison.

The measure would primarily serve as a symbolic example to the private sector because Kansas City municipal government already considers job applicants who have criminal backgrounds. Human Resources Director Gary O’Bannon said his office will have more information about how those candidates are screened and sometimes hired at Wednesday’s hearing.

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