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When background checks don’t apply

Ex-offenders question background checks in job applications.

Broderick Carroll, like many Americans, has been struggling to find steady employment. Last week, he interviewed for a position as a youth coordinator at a City Avenue business and the interviewer told him he had a “superb” résumé.

Five minutes later, he was called into an office and told they could not hire him.

Overqualified? No, Carroll has a criminal record for retail theft.

“My whole thing is I’m only dealing with children. How does my record consisting of retail theft ... affect me from getting a job dealing with children when I have a certification from United Way stating I passed classes as a mentor and just last year I was a youth coordinator?” he asked rhetorically yesterday during a hearing at City Hall on barriers facing ex-offenders.

The Committee of Public Safety hearing was in conjunction with a bill from Councilwoman Donna Reed-Miller that would prohibit city, county and private employers from asking a person about their criminal history.

Some argue it is for public safety, while others like Carroll say it allows for discrimination.

“It just mounts up over and over again,” said Deputy Mayor Everett Gillison, who oversees the city’s re-entry program. “Frustration is ... palpable.”

 
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