Richmond pastor, convicted felon praises "Ban the Box" vote - NBC12 - Richmond, VA News

Richmond pastor, convicted felon praises "Ban the Box" vote

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RICHMOND, VA (WWBT) -

You will no longer be asked if you have been convicted of a felony when you first apply for a job with the City of Richmond.

Pastor Robert Winfree is praising the unanimous vote by City Council and is convinced it will provide hope for many sitting in church now praying for a call back.

"You want to apply for a job because you are qualified, but it's like this scarlet letter. You have an X on your head. You have a brand on your head," said Pastor Winfree who spent at least 4 years in and out of prison as a young man. "If it had not been for a strong support system and God in my life, I probably would have been one of those in the recidivist line going back again."

The two-time convicted felon is now preaching to a congregation of more than 300 and working with the Richmond Behavioral Health Authority.

"It's not free reign. It is an opportunity," said councilwoman Michelle Mosby. "There will be sensitive positions as far as our parks and rec, finances, police, fire, those types of things. That is where the box will remain."

The change is effective immediately. The City can still ask about felony convictions in the interview and conduct background checks.

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