St. Louis County Executive Steve Stenger says a parolee’s failure to find employment is a public safety issue. The eastern Missouri county is joining a national campaign to help job seekers who have a criminal record.
On Monday, Stenger joined other community leaders at the Urban League in north St. Louis County, where he signed an executive order to “Ban the Box” for county employment. The order to “Ban the Box” on County job applications means it will delay questions related to an individual’s criminal history until later in the hiring process.
“Banning the Box in St. Louis County government is critical for two reasons,” Stenger said. “First of all, it aligns with my priority to help all County residents – regardless of their circumstances – to reach their full potential. Second, it makes sense from a practical standpoint as full-time employment is proven to promote rehabilitation while reducing recidivism rates.”
A 2015 study by the George Warren Brown School of Social Work at Washington University showed that 72% of former prisoners who fail to find full-time work return to prison after two years.
When Stenger was asked if he would feel comfortable hiring someone with a criminal background, Stenger said that’s a hypothetical question with a lot of variables.
“I will say this, I don’t think that their criminal background should exclude from a fair interview process,” he said.
In 2014, the city of St. Louis implemented a “Ban the Box” order for city government jobs. Then in 2016, then-Governor Jay Nixon, D, signed a “Ban the Box” executive order for state jobs.
By Missourinet contributing reporter Jill Enders