Lima councilman wants to ‘ban the box’ on convictions

First Posted: 1/7/2015

LIMA — Lima City Councilman Derry Glenn said that removing a box on job applications will improve the economy, offer second chances to those who need it, and lower local taxes.

The box he’s referring to is the one people with a criminal history mark, admitting they were involved in a crime, and he said he believes local companies should take it off their applications.

“This will take us in the right direction we need to be,” he said Wednesday during a news conference on the topic. “Hope is gone when that box is there … companies are missing out on good people, just give them the opportunity.”

Glenn wants to bring it in front of the council and talk to local businesses about it.

“This piece was never there in our city,” he said. “We want to … bring the economy back by helping them get jobs.”

On the other hand, some companies aren’t able to hire people with a criminal history due to the nature of the job, said Joe Patton, workforce development coordinator at Ohio Means Jobs.

“Certain positions require the employer to screen for criminal history,” Patton said, referring to child care and caring for the elderly. “To totally take it off would not comply with those positions.”

Ohio Means Jobs works with people with criminal backgrounds to get them jobs at companies in the area who are willing to hire them.

“The key is being upfront with your criminal history so the employer can work with you on that,” Patton said.

In the end, Patton said the agency supports what businesses do because they know what’s best for them and their workforce.

Some local companies, such as Lima Pallet and Diamond Manufacturing in Bluffton, pride themselves on hiring employees who have a criminal background.

Glenn is not asking companies to do something about it right away, he just wants them to learn about it and give it a chance.

“It’s a tool [to] bring your city back, bring employment up, move up your tax base,” he said.

Offenders going in and out of prison cost taxpayers money, he said, employing them may keep them out of jail.

Aaron Ball said companies also get a tax break when hiring felons.

“[N]ot all felonys are bad felonys,” he wrote on The Lima News’ Facebook page. “As a convicted felon myself I found it’s not hard to find work but I understand why ppl wouldn’t hire some felons.”

Others believe the box should stay on applications.

“It is there for a reason. They need to state that they are a felon and what they did,” wrote Benjamin M. Keysor. “Then the employer can use their own discretion on whether to hire or not depending on what was done and how long ago it was done.”

Glenn’s main goal is to “get [applicants] in the door.”

“People make mistakes and we can’t keep pointing the finger at them, we gotta get them back to work.”

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