Norfolk is planning to join Richmond, Portsmouth, Newport News and other localities across the country to “ban the box” on job applications, whereby the question “Have you ever been convicted of a felony or misdemeanor?” is removed from job applications.
The daunting question that gave Clayton pause more than two years ago will soon disappear from most city job applications, a move that makes Norfolk the second city in South Hampton Roads to join the growing “ban the box” nationwide movement. Portsmouth removed the question from many of its applications in April.
After officials finish developing the new policy, the city will stand as one of only a handful in the commonwealth to delete the question. That, officials said, could happen by Sept. 1.
Side-by-side editorials in The Virginian-Pilot Sunday took on the question. Editorial page editor Donald Luzzatto is not in favor, arguing that removing the question “is simply delaying consideration of an applicant’s criminal background to the point where it will presumably be more difficult and expensive to change course.” Editorial writer Michelle Washington supports the idea, saying that “it makes clear to those seeking employment with the city that a conviction will not be a barrier to employment.”
(Your mind is not playing tricks on you, by the way. The Yes/No headers of the two columns are reversed in my mind as well: the question they answered is whether an applicant’s criminal past should be included on the job application., not whether they support or oppose the “ban the box” policy, which is the question I thought they should have answered. Oh well.)
So what say you, dear reader: ban the box?