Senator Jamilah Nasheed (D-St. Louis) is pleased Governor Jay Nixon has ordered state agencies, boards and commissions to stop asking criminal history questions on job applications. Nasheed says she requested last year that Nixon issue an executive order for state entities.
She plans to lobby private businesses to do what is known as “Ban the box”, by removing such questions from their employment applications.
“They (businesses) must understand this is an economic engine for the state of Missouri,” said Nasheed. “When you have individuals able to go out after paying their debt to society, go out and get jobs, then they’re going to turn around and spend that money. They’re going to put that money back into the economy.”
According to the Missouri Department of Corrections, the unemployment rate for Missourians on parole in 2015 was 44%.
Nasheed proposed a bill to require private businesses to stop asking about criminal background until later in the application process, but Senate President Ron Richard (R-Joplin) opposes that.
“I think that’s a dangerous precedent, but I understand that as something for public employees. I would hate to do that for my own business. I might be able to swallow it for publics, but I wouldn’t want to do it for my own company,” said Richard.
Nixon’s order does not apply to positions for which a criminal history would make an applicant specifically ineligible.
Banning questions on employment applications has been implemented in 21 states. Several corporations have adopted a “Ban the box” policy, including Target, Walmart, Home Depot, Starbucks and Facebook.