City job applications shouldn't contain criminal-history questions, advocates say
KALAMAZOO — The city of Kalamazoo should remove from its job applications questions about a person’s criminal history, several people told the Kalamazoo City Commission on Monday.Libertarians like to say that government is a 'gang of thieves writ large'. Some folks on the left seem intent on making this literally true. Of course, there is already one criminal, ACORN community organizer Stephanie Moore, on the commission. By the way, Jonathan Braun was one of the homeless write-in candidates for city commission in 2007. Is it any wonder that Kalamazoo does worse economically than the surrounding areas?
Advocates said such a move would give ex-offenders a better chance to transition into the community and cut the recidivism rate.
Currently, city job applications ask people if they ever have been convicted of a felony, a criminal misdemeanor or a drinking-and-driving offense.
“There are some very good candidates that may be overlooked because of a mistake they made,” said Mattie Jordan-Woods, executive director of the Northside Association for Community Development.
Several commissioners said this was an important issue and that they wanted to move forward to support ex-offenders.
“People can change,” Commissioner Don Cooney said. “They deserve another chance.”
Kalamazoo City Manager Kenneth Collard said he is talking with the city’s human resource director about when a person’s criminal background should be brought up in the hiring process.
In the past two years, the commission has taken steps to help ex-offenders get an opportunity to land work. Last summer, the commission decided that businesses seeking city contracts must certify they do not automatically exclude felons when they hire new employees.
“It’s been real frustrating,” said Jonathan Braun, a Kalamazoo community organizer with Michigan People’s Action, who was released from prison six years ago. “Because of my criminal background, people are like, ‘You’re a felon.’ They don’t want to hire me.”