BABYLON, N.Y. (CBSNewYork) — Some legislators in the suburbs are uncomfortable with a proposal to prohibit private businesses from asking job applicants about their criminal history.
The controversial bill has been tabled in Suffolk County, CBS2’s Jennifer McLogan reported Wednesday.
Jennifer Brock of Holbrook was incarcerated for a violent crime, committed while she was in the grip of opioids.
“I had a 10-year gap. Nobody was going to hire me based on my résumé,” Brock said.
After serving time, Brock was helped getting her foot in the door of a non-profit. Once she explained her circumstances and how she has changed, Brock got the job and has flourished.
“What we do know about people who hire persons with post conviction, they usually are the most dedicated because they have the most to prove,” said Elizabeth Justesen of the Breaking Barriers Law Project.
Parolees that spoke with McLogan said it is tough to get that first interview because of a common check box on job applications asking about past criminal convictions.
“Now is what matters, when that check box is removed,” Brock said.
Suffolk County is considering a law that would ban the question until late in the hiring process.
“This little box on the employment application is holding them back from really getting a second chance in life,” said Duwayne Gregory, the presiding officer of the Suffolk County Legislature.
But others in the Legislature want boxes for serious crimes to remain up front, saying costly background checks may not turn up convictions.
“I sympathize with these people who are probably not getting callbacks, but we also have an obligation to protect our employers,” Republican Robert Trotta said.
If the bill passes, Suffolk would join 150 municipalities across 33 states with “ban the box” laws, including New York City. It is unclear if the county executive would sign the bill, McLogan reported.
Until next week’s vote, the issue is being hotly debated.
“If America is truly a place of second chances,” one person said.
“It’s a little bit more complicated than a simple box check,” another said.
“I think it’s a bit risky, especially not knowing the severity of the crime that was committed,” another added.
There are more than 1,600 parolees in Suffolk County, many relying on public assistance.
According to Breaking Barriers Law Project, there are more than 25 companies in Suffolk that have hired parolees during the past year.