'Ban the Box' provides help to convicted felons seeking jobs

'Ban the Box' provides help to convicted felons seeking jobs

COLUMBUS, GA (WTVM) - The City of Columbus is jumping on board with other cities around the U.S. to give those with a criminal past a second chance at finding employment.

The order called "Ban the Box" ensures applicants will not be discriminated against before getting an interview.

Columbus is just in the beginning stages of this order, which they began April 15.

The executive order signed by Georgia Governor Nathan Deal in February lets felons who apply for jobs in the state avoid checking the box that asks of the prior convictions is having an effect in Columbus.

The city of Columbus is declaring itself an equal opportunity employer and are making it easier for convicted felons to get a job.

"The point is, 'have they paid for that mistake and are they ready to become a contributing member to society?' If they are and have skills that will benefit the Columbus City government and our citizens, we'll like to give them an opportunity," Mayor Tomlinson said.

The city has already removed questions from applications asking a person of past convictions. Human Resources says this process will help with recruitment and allows the applicant to make it to the interview process.

"But they will be there because we are impressed with their credential otherwise and abilities as it appears on the application," Tomlinson said.

However, hiring managers can ask the applicant of their full history during the interview. The Columbus Chapter of the NAACP is working to change this part of the executive order.

"We're putting a piece of legislation to go with the plan that, if they ask the question, let it be after the hiring process not during the interview process," said Tonza Thomas, president of the NAACP.

Last year, Thomas called on Governor Deal and Mayor Tomlinson to help push for Ban in the Box in Columbus.

"Our returning citizens are parents and so when they come back to their community, they have children they have to feed and there's not a lot of job opportunities out here, we all know that," Thomas mentioned.

Convicted felons are limited to only general government positions with the city.

"Certain parks and rec positions if you become in contact with children or the elderly. You can not hold a position in our finance department or public safety office or where you might have to work with prisoners,'' Tomlinson said.

Mayor Tomlinson stresses every person must still pass the background check and drug test before they are hired with the city.

The City Human Resource office says so far, hiring managers haven't have any complaints nor have they experienced any problems with Ban the Box.

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