‘Ban the Box’ ordinance up for final vote on Monday

‘Ban the Box’ ordinance up for final vote on Monday

MEMPHIS, Tenn. (WMC) - In order to work for Shelby County Government, potential applicants must respond to questions regarding job experience or education.

The applicant also may also have to reveal past criminal convictions.

For the thousands of ex-offenders in Shelby County who re-enter society every year, revealing that information could have huge consequences.

“It’s the idea that if people considering applicants know that you have a criminal history, there’s a strong chance that they will not consider you or your application on the merits. So we’ve got to figure out a way to get folks with criminal history into the application pool,” said Mayor Lee Harris

Shelby County Mayor Lee Harris is pushing a “Ban the Box” ordinance, an initiative that will be up for its third and final vote in the Shelby County Commission Monday.

According to Harris, Shelby County could join 150 other cities and counties with similar legislation. The City of Memphis has already passed the Ban the Box ordinance.

However, critics say “banning the box” doesn’t plug all the loopholes.

A simple Google search could reveal information, or commercial vendors like mugshots.com could provide information to employers.

“They use data sometimes in error and it ruins reputations, so we’re working on that part of the puzzle too, those digital footprints,” said Harris.

Harris says he's working on getting other private companies to buy into the idea of hiring qualified applicants who may have a blemish on their criminal record.

"But Shelby County plans to lead by example. We've got to get our house in order first and then we're going to go out and talk about this issue in the same way."

The Ban the Box ordinance would provide an exception for convictions that are directly related to certain jobs such as a convicted sex offender applying for a job that works with children.

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