Bass wants to ‘ban the box’ for county jobs
Move would remove criminal history question from job
A Crittenden County Quorum Court Justice is proposing to “ban the box” for all county jobs.
Justice Hubert Bass has submitted an ordinance which would do away with requiring job applicants to disclose whether they have a criminal background on the actual application itself.
“I think it would be a good move to help people who need a second chance,” Bass said. “How are they going to get rehabilitated if they come back out into society and can’t find employment?”
The ordinance is modeled after similar “ban the box” measures nationwide where states, cities, and counties — and even the federal government — have changed their laws to ban the question on job applications.
Bass said 23 states have passed “ban the box” ordinances and over 100 cities and counties — including Memphis.
“I found out that Memphis did this six years ago,” Bass said.
Bass said job applicants would not have disclose prior convictions, but can still be required to pass a background check.
However, as long as the felony conviction is not job related, Bass said a person’s qualifications should be enough to get them the job.
“If they are applying for a job that involves driving, as long as they don’t have a DUI, then it shouldn’t matter,” Bass said. “If they have a marijuana charge, that’s not job related. It shouldn’t disqualify them.”
Roughly nine in ten employers in the United States check databases of criminal records when hiring for at least some positions.
Bass said he expects his ordinance will generate some discussion, but he has already spoken to most of the elected county officials who have expressed their support.
“All of them said they support second chances,” Bass said. “A person who has served their time and are not on probation or parole, then what do we want those people to do? The first thing we say is they need to go to work, they need a job. Well, then we block them and are encouraging them to become repeat offenders.
Bass said if Memphis already has a similar policy, there is no reason why Crittenden County shouldn’t do the same.
“What is so unique about Crittenden County that they can’t do this if 23 states and over 100 counties including the one next door have it? Is something suddenly going to go wrong?” Bass said. “I think it is a win-win situation.”
By Mark Randall