By Greg Meriwether, Anchor
BATON ROUGE, LA (WAFB) - A bill that would effectively ‘ban the box’ on some state job applications was officially signed into law by Gov. John Bel Edwards Wednesday.
Ban the Box is a nationwide effort to remove the criminal history section on job applications with the hopes of helping a person with a criminal history to at least get past the application phase and make it to an interview where they can better explain themselves.
James Windom, with the Capital Area Reentry Coalition, said the potential employer could still run any necessary background checks and inquire about the applicant’s criminal history before eventually hiring them.
"We're not forcing an employer to hire someone with blinders on," he said. "What we’re saying is we want to give that individual the opportunity just to tell their story."
Shawn Singleton spent a year in jail and believes that has hindered her job prospects greatly. She said the new change gives her hope.
"When you are truthful and check that box, you don't get another call," she said. :They don't check on what you can do, it's just what you put in that box. It kind of prejudges you as to who you are or who they assume you are because they may not give you another chance to explain what happened. That was my past, this is me now."
In addition to applying for work, Singleton volunteers to help others who have criminal backgrounds find employment.
"My plan is to go further and to apply for the job that I was afraid to apply for," she said. "I may get turned down, but it gives me encouragement to apply for them."
Louisiana will be the 24th state to adopt similar legislation and joins a similar effort already in place at the city-parish level in both Baton Rouge and New Orleans.
The new state law applies to unclassified state positions and goes into effect August 1.
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