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Mecklenburg County bans the box for criminal history confirmation
'Bias' against ex-offenders removed
 
Published Monday, March 21, 2016 2:24 pm
by Herbert L. White

Mecklenburg County has joined the “Ban the Box” movement.


Commissioners voted unanimously last week to remove criminal background from the county's employment application. The city of Charlotte discontinued the practice in 2014 under a directive by City Manager Ron Carlee.


The modification will not require applicants to check a box if they have a criminal record.


“That question on the application will be removed,” said Commissioner Pat Cotham, who proposed the change. “It removes the implicit bias that is so difficult for people who made a mistake in their life and now are trying to get on the right path and they’ll have a more level playing field to present themselves and their skills for a job with the county.”


There are over 1.6 million people in N.C. with a criminal record, according to the N.C. Justice Center. Among the state’s 40,000 inmates 98 percent will eventually be released while half of ex-offenders are sent back to prison for new crimes.


Nearly 45 percent of people under Department of Correction supervision are African American.


Advocates say removing the criminal background question would allow potential employers to learn about candidates’ experience and skills as they relate to the job.
Mecklenburg will still perform background checks on applicants who have made it to a final hiring stage as well as ask about criminal records during the normal interview process.


Cotham, who worked for a nonprofit that helped ex-offenders find jobs, said people who have served time have paid their debt to society and should be allowed to demonstrate their skills before discussing their criminal records.


“The county will have a better pool of applicants because they’ll have more people with skills to interview,” she said. ”There’s always some bias against good candidates who never got to interview because the hiring manager never considered that person.”


Nineteen states and more than 100 cities and counties across the U.S. have adopted so-called “fair chance legislation.'' North Carolina has no state law banning the box, but several local governments do, such as Asheville, Carrboro and Durham. In seven states, private employers are banned from asking criminal history in the initial employment process. There are exceptions, which  include public safety jobs or access to vulnerable populations or sensitive records, such as law enforcement, child care or finance.


Cotham said she’d like the policy extended to vendors who do business with the county  as well as Mecklenburg’s six towns.


“It would be really great if all of the government entities worked together on this,” she said. “I don’t know what to expect there but I am going to reach out to the towns and see if they will join in with this.”

Comments

"Its such as you read my thoughts! You seem to know so much about
this, such as you wrote the guide in it or something."
Regards: Eve Hunt
Posted on June 28, 2019
 

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