Jefferson City could change city job applications to ban the box

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JEFFERSON CITY - "Ban the Box" could be making an impact on how Jefferson City hires its city employees.

"Ban the Box" is a nationwide movement to eliminate the question "Have you been convicted of a crime or felony?" on job applications.

Mid-Missouri cities such as Columbia and Sedalia have already banned the box from city employee applications.

Columbia joined the  campaign in 2012 when it eliminated the question from its city employee applications. 

A member of the Columbia Mayor's Task Force on Community Violence will hold a public forum Wednesday afternoon to discuss the initiative with private and public businesses. Recently, Jefferson City has been discussing the idea of banning the box on its city employee applications as well, but no major changes have been made yet.

"Our application does ask the question, then it goes forward to ask give the nature of the felony. We then take a look at those answers on a case by case basis, and then we look at if the conviction is related to the job for which they are applying," Jefferson City Director of Human Resources Gail Strope said.

Jefferson City will not hire someone in its Finance Department if he or she has been convicted of fraud. They city will also not place a sex offender in the Parks and Recreation Department.

Rob Agee manages Jefferson City restaruant Madison's Cafe. He said he thinks hiring someone on the basis of his or her past is not exactly fair.

"I have no problem with hiring ex-offenders. It just depends on the severity of the crime to a certain extent and there is a form when you apply that asks if you are a convicted felon, but that does not preclude them from employment," Agee said.

He opened Madison's Cafe 33 years ago and said he began hiring ex-offenders day one.

"People that are in prison, you know, have a 20 percent shot on the outside once they're out, so I like to give them that shot if I can," Agee said.

Ex-offenders employed at Madison's Cafe have the chance to work in an a variety of positions, from the kitchen to being a server on the floor.  Agee said, however, he will not allow ex-offenders to work behind the bar.

As a restaurant veteran, Agee said he understands where the city stands on having the question on its applications and the necessity of the question.