Nixon 'bans the box' from most Missouri government employee applications

April 12, 2016

St. Louis Public Radio

By: Jason Rosenbaum

When Missouri Gov. Jay Nixon “banned the box” for potential state employees, the Show Me State joined a nationwide trend aimed at helping ex-offenders move back into the workforce.

His executive order would remove application questions about criminal history for most state jobs.

There are exceptions for positions where a criminal conviction is disqualifying, such as a bank examiner. “Ban the box” doesn’t necessarily mean that a person’s criminal history won’t come up in the hiring process — it just wouldn’t be placed on a job application.

'The box' refers to check box on many job application forms that is to be marked by applicants who have a criminal record.

Proponents of “ban the box” contend that criminal history application questions work against ex-offenders finding work. Both progressive and conservative politicians have embraced the policy to help keep people who have served time in jail out of jail. (For instance: “Ban the Box” has been strongly embraced by groups like Empower Missouri and the Koch Brothers as well as several GOP governors.)

“Without jobs, former offenders are more likely to become homeless, revert to old patterns of drug abuse and criminal activity. Work can and will change that,” Nixon said at a newss conference in Downtown St. Louis. “Gainful employment is a key factor in promoting rehabilitation and the successful reintegration of former offenders. It’s simple: People who are working are less likely to commit crimes. They’re less likely to return to prison. And they’re more likely to become productive contributing members of societies.”

State Sen. Jamilah Nasheed said Nixon’s executive order provides a “second chance” to thousands of potential employees looking for work — and not just in the urban parts of the state.

“What we’re dealing with in the city of St. Louis in terms of drugs or the drug epidemic, it’s now finding itself a home in the rural areas,” said Nasheed, D-St. Louis. “The heroin epidemic is extremely high right now in the outstate areas. They’re starting to see so many of their young kids who addicted to drugs and get caught with felony charges need that second chance as well.”

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