Birmingham 'bans the box' for city job applicants

Birmingham 'bans the box' for city job applicants

BIRMINGHAM, AL (WBRC) - Birmingham became the first city in Alabama to "Ban the Box" on Thursday.

The box refers to a job application where job applicants must disclose if they have been convicted of a crime.

Mayor William Bell believes the box is a major barrier to getting ex-felons a chance to get a job and sometimes forces them back into a life of crime.

Bell made his announcement on Thursday along with Deputy Labor Secretary Chris Lu and U.S. Attorney Joyce White Vance for the Northern District. Bell signed an executive order removing the box of all applications for city jobs.

Bell and others said this does not prevent an employer from inquiring about a job seeker's criminal past, but it gives that person a chance to sell themselves.

Both Lu and Vance welcomed the Mayor's decision. The two believe, as does President Obama, that banning the box is the best way to bring down the state's crime rate and give a person a chance to contribute to society after paying their debt.

"Ban the box has been remarkably successful where it has been adopted. Over 100 cities in 19 states have a ban the box policy in place with great success," Vance said.

The federal government has been pushing programs to hire more ex-felons.

"Birmingham with its action today is joining the growing list of communities that are saying those who have served time are simply going to be known for one mistake in their life," Lu said.

A bill has been introduced in Montgomery to make this a statewide policy.

Bell said the "ban the box" would not apply to the Birmingham Police Department jobs.

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