City removes felony inquiry from general job application

Decision to aims to promote "city of second chances," Charlottesville spokesperson says


City officials removed the felony inquiry from the city’s general job application to reinforce the idea of giving members of the community a second chance.

“You have already fulfilled your sentence,” Mayor Satyendra Singh Huja said. “If you don’t get a job, you end up doing the same thing you went to jail for in the first place.”

Charlottesville government general job applications will no longer include a question regarding past felonies, officials announced Monday.

Charlottesville spokesperson Miriam Dickler said the decision to remove the question was not prompted by a specific incident or situation, but rather by the city’s commitment being a “city of second chances” for individuals returning from prison.

“This is a part of a series of initiatives that the City Council and the city have been taking to help ex-offenders transition back into the community,” Dickler said. “It’s a way to give those folks … an opportunity.”

The city has been working to reduce barriers for ex-offenders returning to the community for the past four years. Director of Human Services Mike Murphy says the decision to eliminate the felony inquiry furthers the city’s mission of fulfilling this goal.

“The city has for some time been working on the issues about helping people successfully return home from jail or prison,” Murphy said. “We want people to have an opportunity to become part of the city and be able to be employed.”

This decision represents part of the city’s “Coming Home to Work” program, which helps ex-felons find work and establish themselves back in society.

“We’re looking at ways in which we can reduce barriers for people,” Murphy said. “We’re looking at ways to have more affordable childcare, looking at … whether we have enough affordable housing stock in the city, and so on.”

Charlottesville also provides resources to train ex-offenders in soft skills, such as communications skills, attitude and work ethic. Once job-seekers find employment, many employers are willing to provide technical skills training for new hires. Additional resources are also offered to help ex-offenders obtain forms of identification, driver licenses, and other documents and services.

While the felony inquiry will not be included on the general job application, the city will still check potential employees’ criminal records before a job offer is made. Appropriate background checks will be made depending on the position in question.

Conditions for rejecting an applicant would vary “based on the job role and what the offense would be,” Murphy said.

Mayor Satyendra Singh Huja expressed enthusiasm for the decision, saying removing this question helps former criminals adjust and become contributing members of the community.

“You have already fulfilled your sentence,” Huja said. “If you don’t get a job, you end up doing the same thing you went to jail for in the first place.”

Published March 25, 2014 in FP test, News

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