Richmond leaders have just a couple days to convince city council to "ban the box" before it considers an ordinance Monday night. They're making one final push to remove a question about criminal history on an initial application for jobs with the city.
If you want a job with the city, you have to fill out an online application. If you scroll down a few questions, they want to know if you've ever been convicted of a felony. For some people, that becomes a problem.
It's safe to say Felicia Griffin really wants a job with the city.
"I've applied for administrative assistant, administrative support assistant, she recalled. "I've applied for Parks and Recreation. I've applied for utility worker."
It hasn't exactly worked out.
"Nothing, no call back no, no interview, no phone interview," Griffin described.
Griffin is a convicted felon. She served three years in prison for a drug and gun charge and now has to check the box on the application. Despite paying her debt to society and working towards her bachelor's degree, that box, she says, seals her fate.
Councilwoman Michelle Mosby believes Griffin's story is not uncommon. She wants to delete the question from the initial job application altogether, but assures NBC12 it won't jeopardize safety.
"Background checks will continue to be conducted in accordance with the law and city policy," Mosby explained. "What 'ban the box' does is defer background checks until the final stage of the hiring process."
And that, Griffin says, could change lives and possibly poverty levels in the city.
"It would give me a chance to get in the door, explain my story and get them to see me and let me sell myself to the fact that I'm more than what they label me," she added.
It is important to note the "ban the box" ordinance would not apply to sensitive positions - like those dealing with public safety, health, children and money.
If city council passes the ordinance Monday night, it would join almost fifty other cities, which have tossed out the criminal history question in the initial application stages.
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