Tallahassee Reports has learned that the number of people with a criminal background hired by the City of Tallahassee has increased during the year after the “Ban the Box” initiative was passed by the Tallahassee City Commission.
“Ban the Box” is the slogan used by a nationwide movement that identified job and housing discrimination as huge barriers to those returning to communities after jail or prison. Supporters of the movement encourage employers to choose their best candidates based on job skills and qualifications, not past convictions.
In early 2015, led by Mayor Andrew Gillum, the City of Tallahassee adopted a form of “Ban the Box” in a controversial 3-2 vote. City Commissioners Gil Ziffer and Scott Maddox voted against the measure, while Commissioner Nancy Miller and Curtis Richardson supported the proposal.
The following information was recently provided to Tallahassee Reports by the City’s Human Resource Department.
Percentage of Hires with Criminal Background
YEAR % Hired (Number)
2014 11.3% (89)
2015 11.3% (77)
2016 15.9% (106)
The information shows that in 2014, before the City of Tallahassee passed “Ban the Box” in 2015, 11.3% of the 816 people hire had criminal backgrounds. The numbers remained approximately the same in 2015.
However, in 2016 the percentage of those hired with criminal backgrounds increased to 15.9%. The means that 107 of the 680 new hires had a criminal background.
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.
“Ban the box” has long been supported by liberal criminal justice reform advocates. But conservatives and libertarians are also supporting the initiative. For example, eighteen states have enacted “ban the box” legislation, including states governed by Republicans.
The Washington Examiner reported that Chris Christie signed legislation banning the box in 2014. John Kasich did the same thing in Ohio in 2015. As governor of Florida, Jeb Bush signed an executive order promoting the hiring of ex-offenders. Also, Kentucky Sen. Rand Paul has introduced federal legislation to seal the criminal records of non-violent offenders.