NEW ORLEANS - District "C" Councilmember Kristin Palmer is introducing a "Ban the Box" ordinance at the Governmental Affairs committee meeting on Thursday, Sept. 27, 2018, at 1:00 p.m. If approved, the ordinance would prohibit the City and City contractors from asking potential employees' criminal history on initial job applications. Removing this barrier to employment creates opportunities for people with records, ultimately improving public safety and saving costs.
In 2014, the City enacted a similar policy for classified and unclassified jobs in all City departments, boards, agencies, and commissions. Councilmember Palmer's proposed ordinance codifies this policy and extends it to all entities with a City contract, grant, or cooperative endeavor agreement.
"It is critical that our citizens are connected to job opportunities. Ex-offenders should not serve a life sentence after serving time in prison. This new policy allows them a chance to be considered for employment based on their qualifications and experience related to the position they're applying for," said Councilmember Palmer.
The City will still conduct criminal background checks on all candidates and make final hiring decisions for people with records in light of other relevant information, including experience, the seriousness of any past conviction, when the incident took place and what has occurred in the applicant's life since then.
"This is an opportunity for people to sit down with a hiring manager, state their case about circumstances surrounding their conviction and what they've done to turn their life around. Unemployment disproportionally impacts African American men in our city, and they have the highest incarceration rate in New Orleans. I've looked at the numbers, and within a year of being released 17.4 percent of offenders return to prison. Within five years, that number more than doubles to 46 percent. Our job as City leaders is not to impose yet another barrier for these individuals. We need to enable them to create a better life for themselves and their families," said Councilmember Palmer.
If the Governmental Affairs Committee approves the "Ban the Box" ordinance, it then will go before the full Council for final approval.