Tallahassee Reports has learned that in 2014 the City of Tallahassee selected 124 applicants for employment that had checked the box on the City employment application indicating they had a criminal background.
After background checks were completed and reviewed, 35 applicants were disqualfied and 89 were hired.
This means that during 2014, when 816 people were hired by the City of Tallahassee, 89 (11%) of those hired were applicants that checked the box indicating they had a criminal background.
These numbers were given to Tallahassee Reports by Ellen Blair, the Director of the City’s Human Resources Department.
Why are these numbers important?
The current move by Mayor Andrew Gillum to “Ban the Box”, which removes the criminal questionnaire from the City employment application, argues that those that check the box are not getting a fair shake by City staff.
The numbers do not seem to support that argument.
A comprehensive study by the Center for Economic and Policy Research found that in 2008 “about one in 15 working-age adults was an ex-felon.” This number translates to about 7% of the workforce.
Comparing this 7% number to the 15% (124) selected for employment and the 11% ultimately hired by the City of Tallahassee, would seem to indicate that during the hiring process City staff is following the law by not discriminating against those who have a criminal background.
The fact that TLH has hired some people with criminal records isn’t enough to disregard ban the box. You would have to also find out whether the applicants who were hired despite criminal records were hired because they were known by hiring team outside of just the application process (including being referred by another employee), what the nature of the convictions that excluded and did not exclude were.
The box does mean that people with no personal relationships or way to have someone believe in them despite a previous mistake will simply not apply in the first place.
People for the American Way 1, City of Tallahassee 0.
Steve, Do you know if the City conducts background checks on internal applicants? I am asking because suppose I had a felony conviction for embezzlement, cleared the background check, and was hired to dig ditches with the hiring manager knowing all about my felony conviction, but I was hired anyway because it did not matter in my new job. Then suppose I go back to school, get my degree, and apply for an internal job in the utility payment office as a cashier. If the box is removed from the application, how would the hiring manager know about my prior felony? I doubt the City would conduct another background check because I am already a City employee. If that is the case, then there is another major loophole in the process of removing the box.
A few points need making.
All this does is remove the question about a criminal record – the criminal background check still happens, at which point an applicant can be excluded.
Also, this article doesn’t specify what kind of crimes – misdemeanors versus felonies, or the nature – DUI from 25 years ago or manslaughter and fresh out of prison.
This attempts to dump everyone into a “bad” category and are unworthy of gainful employment.
All the ban the box does is remove the stigma associated with past transgressions from the initial review, but will be caught on the background check.
Perhaps Mr. Gillum should redirect his energy to requiring local elected officials to check the box as to if they actually live in the district they represent. Since we have THREE elected officials – (Scott Maddox, Rep. Alan Williams, and Bill Proctor) – who do not live in their district, are they committing a felony every time they cash their paychecks paid for by taxpayers? Our elected officials cannot even be honest. The elected officials and leaders who look the other way are just as dishonest.
Two points: 1) Once again TR digs out the information that matters the most. This illustrates that there is absolutely no reason for any change in the application process. Hopefully, the Commissioners will be persuaded by the plain facts. 2) We have learned that Mayor Andrew Gillum merely wants to “Ban the Box” in order to “Check the box” in his agenda for People for The American Way…Foundation.