ST. LOUIS — John Collins-Muhammad said he personally knows people who benefitted when St. Louis banned questions about prior criminal history from city job applications.
"I know a bunch of people that have benefited from this," Collins Muhammad, Ward 21 Alderman said. "I want to see everybody benefit from this."
He is now proposing to "ban the box," prohibiting all employers from using the questions on initial job applications.
"So many times we see it, when you mark that box, that's it for you, go try somewhere else," he said.
You don't have to go far to find supporters.
"It helps a lot of people that are discouraged about filling out applications because they know that they have to expose a part of their life that is a bad choice so to speak," Calvin Atkins said.
Columbia was the first city in Missouri to ban the box in 2014.
Collins-Muhammad's plan doesn't prohibit hiring managers from asking about criminal history in interviews or doing a background check, but he said it allows people to get a foot in the door.
Collins-Muhammad says he does expect pushback from unions and some private business owners, but to anyone concerned, he said "St. Louis is a city that supports second chances."
"The board bill asks for a second chance, and we have a moral and a community obligation to accept that second chance and help people wherever we can," Collins-Muhammad said.
The bill passed through a committee Monday evening by a 6-1 vote. It will now go before full floor debate Friday, where it will need 15 votes to pass.