Group Proposes To 'Ban the Box' on City Job Applications

Danville, VA - A proposal made to Danville City Council this week may open a lot of doors for those trying to move on from their pasts. A group hopes the city will 'Ban the Box' by removing the part of a job application that asks about prior felony convictions.The fear is those hiring will see that mark, and automatically stop considering someone's application, even someone who is rehabilitated and ready to live good and legal life.It's been nearly two years since Andrea Comer got out of jail but she still feels like she's paying for her two felonies."That's way in my past. I did a lot of growing up and I believe that everybody deserves a second chance," said Comer. Comer says her criminal record, which includes attempted unlawful wounding and possession of a weapon by a prisoner, prevents her from getting a job now."I filled out applications after applications after applications," said Comer. She says that little box that asks about prior convictions can be a huge problem for employers."I'm trying to take care of myself as best I can but I have to have help because I can't have a job, I can't find one," said Comer. This week, city council heard about a proposal to 'ban the box' on applications for city jobs."If this helps people get a job and get their life back on track then I support that," said Lee Vogler, Danville City Council. Employers would still be allowed to ask about a conviction in an interview and conduct background checks."It just is heartbreaking to see people who are really really giving everything they have to make a difference in their lives and they are not being allowed to," said Dr. Regina Curtis, Founder and Executive Director of Crossroads Reconciliation Services.Curtis works with hundreds of convicted felons. She says just getting this question off applications would allow many to get their foot in the door. Something Comer says she desperately needs."If you meet them and you understand that they are a good person and you see they are a good person...then it shouldn't matter," said Comer.We're told there is a lot of support for this kind of proposal on city council. It could be brought to a work session as soon as this month.