St. Louis County Executive Issues “Ban the Box” Executive Order
St. Louis County Executive Steve Stenger has signed an executive order removing questions about a job candidate’s criminal history from initial applications for employment within County government.
The order to “Ban the Box” on County job applications will delay questions related to an individual’s criminal history until later in the hiring process. All job candidates will be judged solely on their qualifications as they begin seeking employment.
“Banning the Box in St. Louis County government is critical for two reasons,” County Executive Stenger said. “First of all, it aligns with my priority to help all County residents – regardless of their circumstances – to reach their full potential. “Second, it makes sense from a practical standpoint as full-time employment is proven to promote rehabilitation while reducing recidivism rates.”
A 2015 study by the George Warren Brown School of Social Work at Washington University showed that 72 percent of former prisoners who fail to find full-time work return to prison after two years. County Executive Stenger’s order prohibits any County official from accessing an applicant’s conviction or arrest record during an initial review of a job candidate’s application.
The order does not prevent a criminal background check as a condition of employment in County government. But a criminal record would not automatically exclude a job candidate from consideration for most St. Louis County government jobs. The “Ban the Box” order would not apply to positions related to criminal justice or justice services; the St. Louis County Police Department; judicial administration; municipal courts; the prosecuting attorney’s office; the County Counselor’s office; or to park rangers. While the order only pertains to employment within County government, County Executive Stenger said he hoped that private sector employers would follow his lead.
“A parolee’s failure to find full-time employment becomes, quite frankly, a serious public safety issue for every County resident,” County Executive Stenger said. “Without a decent job, exprisoners are far more likely to struggle with substance abuse. They are at high risk for homelessness. And they are far more likely to engage in criminal activity.
“In short, by helping men and women to find gainful employment, we also help all of St. Louis County.”
County Executive Stenger’s order takes effect immediately.