Forty-three localities nationwide, including Newport News, have "banned the box."
That means they have eliminated job applications that ask if a person has been convicted of a felony.
Some who sit on Richmond City Council want to join those localities. They’re hoping that the measure could eventually be introduced as statewide legislation across the street at the State Capitol.
Joined by "second chance" advocates, Richmond City Councilwoman Michelle Mosby said "Banning the Box" is a necessary step in allowing those who have paid their debt to society to become productive members. She says scores of people qualify for city government jobs but are never interviewed because they've been obligated to check the felony box on an application. So she wants to delay the background checks and felony conviction admission until later in the hiring process:
"Where you get an opportunity to do the application and if you have all of the qualifications on the application, I call you in for an interview, then you and I talk from there, and I decide, 'Wow, this person is really, really great,' and then I ask the question and it does not relate to or cannot harm what's going on with this position, you're in a better position to get the job," said Mosby.
Richmond Attorney Charlie Schmidt, who has a criminal history, says after Minneapolis adopted a Ban the Box ordinance, the city saw a nearly 51% drop in criminal recidivism—which they attribute to the ordinance. Mosby says some state lawmakers are interested in sponsoring a similar, statewide measure.