Ferndale Council Votes to “Ban the Box,” Removing Criminal History Question from Applications

Kramer_TOP_02Ferndale NewWay_Jazz_TuesdaysCouncil Votes to “Ban the Box,” Removing Criminal History Question from Applications

Ferndale, MI  – On most employment applications there is a box that many people check in dread, knowing that by being honest about their past, they are likely to be passed up for consideration.  “Have you ever been convicted of a felony or misdemeanor?”

For people who have a criminal record it does not matter if the crime was shoplifting, a marijuana charge, a DUI or or murder.  It does not matter if it was done last week or 30 years ago.  It does not matter if the person has served their time and kept on the straight and narrow ever since.  They must check yes to that box.

But there is a movement underway nationally to “ban the box,” meaning that lisa schmidt lawcities and businesses are removing the question from their employment application in hopes of making the world a little bit more fair for people who have served their time.  Removing barriers to employment also reduces recidivism.

Ferndale joined Detroit, Ann Arbor and Kalamazoo in adopting a “ban the box” policy to remove the questions from applications and doing a criminal background check only when the applicant is being offered a position.

“Many communities are taking a look at their recruitment practices, specifically at their application, and are deciding to remove that question so as to provide a fair process by which those with criminal histories can at least be reviewed on the onset based upon their experiences  and their initial application,” said Human Resources Director Jenny Campo.  “This does not mean the City has to hire convicted criminals.  What it does mean is that we prohibit excluding individuals with a criminal  history from consideration  Judy_Palmer30yearswithout giving the individual  an opportunity  to explain  his or her history.”

The policy was introduced by Councilperson Raylon Leaks May, who later explained the inspiration behind it.  “In March, I attended an MML [Michigan Municipal League] Conference in Lansing. I went to a seminar hosted by the Michigan Black Democratic Caucus. One of the topics addressed was the “Ban the Box” option.

“Learning about it made me wonder if we had adopted Ban the Box here in Ferndale. I found out that we had not, and being that Ferndale is a community that encourages inclusion and values diversity, this seemed like a perfect proposal to introduce to the City manager, who then, introduced the topic to her department heads.”

garden16_monte_albertCouncilperon Leaks-May reiterated that residents do not need to worry, that background checks will still be done on employees.  “Banning the box does not prevent a background check for individuals seeking employment; what it does is gives the applicant the opportunity to disclose information when interviewing with a potential employer and then allowing that employer to make a decision whether or not to hire the applicant.

“I am excited about The City of Ferndale’s willingness to embrace such a policy and I am excited for the individuals that, even though bad judgement calls have been made at some point in their lives, will have a fair shot at gaining employment.”

City Council unanimously adopted the policy, with a start date of Aug. 1, 2016. The policy only applies to the City of Ferndale and the application/hiring process they use.

Learn more about Ban the Box at http://bantheboxcampaign.org/.

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