Target changes its approach to hiring ex-convicts

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KANSAS CITY, Mo. -- Target is changing the way it hires by "banning the box",

This means the company is removing criminal history questions from its applications nationwide.

This news is positive for ex-offenders like Secundo Williams. After getting out of prison, he was forced to face his demons every time he checked the box asking 'have you ever been convited of a felony?' on job applications.

"It was very challenging. I filled out lots and lots of job applications. I didn't even make it to any of the interviews because I'm a felon," he said.

Williams said he filled out nearly 100 job applications before landing an interview and eventually a job. The reason he got so far is the company didn't inquire about criminal history on its application.

"Being discriminated against right off the application doesnt give us the chance to show what we can provide for that company," said Williams.

John Maloney, a director at the TurnAround program offered by the Catholic Charities of Kansas City-St. Joseph, worked closely with Williams during his job-search. The program aims to turn ex-offenders into better job candidates. He's thrilled to hear of Target's decision to ban criminal history questions on applications

"At this point employers are forced to look at the merit and experience of a person and what an applicant can bring to a company instead of seeing whether they an ex-offender or not," said Maloney,

He said the many of TurnAround's participants face immediate rejection when companies find out their criminal past.

"Catholic Charities served over 500 ex-offenders last year. Over half of them did get employment, but I'd hate to see how many more we could get if they didn't have that box on there right now," said Maloney.

Williams is one of the program's success stories and he believes anyone in his position deserves a second chance to succeed. He said Target's leap to ban the box is a huge step in the right direction.

"It's a very positive thing. It allows us a chance to be productive in society and not go back to the things we used to do and not make the same mistakes we made in the past.," he said.

Target plans to remove criminal history questions from all its applications by spring of 2014. The company said they still have the right to do background checks on any applicant, and ensure they are taking the proper measure to keep stores just as safe for their customers.

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8 comments

  • sue Taylor

    Target still denies exoffenders with felonies and misdemeanors in Az. If Target has made changes, it apparently only made changes in Kansas. Here in Tucson Arizona, Target still asks for background checks and denies felony and misdemeanor charges to go through the system. First Advantage company is being utilized as the companies resource for checks. I have been out of work because of this “misdemeanor” I got and was sentenced in 2013 while being employed at the states prison complex and accused of a horendous crime by inmate, but now fighting and struggling to regain employment after being layed off from my job at Walmart 4 months ago.
    What needs to be changed is no matter the crime or misdemeanor charge a person needs to be given a chance to prove themselves and be allowed back in the workforce. As for me, I desperately need that chance before I loose my home. Ive already lost my car cause I don’t have a job to keep up the payments. I have nothing else and family and friends are strapped from trying to keep me from going under financially. Are there any true employers or companies willing to give a person a shot at life?

  • parker johnson

    LIES! LIES! LIES! this is all for a publicity stunt! I firmly beleive that Target should be removed from your list because ive just gone 2 full weeks waiting on my background check to come back after Target told me I was hired and even sent me to go pass their drug test, which I did. I only have a drug felony and no other type of charges like violent/sexual/theft related and they still let me think it was all good for 2 full weeks. I am so depressed over the situation and feel like their HR department needs to really be honest and quit giving false hope to people trying to find work with a previous felony. Im sorry target that i didnt rape or murder anyone for my felony, if they truly are hiring felons thats obvoiusly the direction they are going. Furthermore, I come from a family of 8 and they have lost our buisness completely,also my family is MAJOR in the entertainment industry WILL BE roasting Target via twitter and other social media. My brother himself has over 3 million followers and is on TV everyday so trust me if u are in the same situation as me with TARGET , people will know. It makes me furious to now know TARGET is only ” felon friendly” for a publicity gain… granted they took the felony question off their application process DONT mistake it for them truly being open to felons. thank u, parker johnson memphis, tn

  • Rick

    This is a total lie, i was interviewed and hired by Target and on the day of my orientation they told me my felony automatically disqualified me for employment. But they do use prison labor. Terrible company.

  • xinruliu2016

    Love this! Yes, ex-offenders really desire more job opportunities because of prejudice and discrimination, however, you could think they deserve a chance once you find out their stories. Anyway, every saint has a past, and every sinner has a future. Why should they always stay in dark side if they want to be good people? So please give them a second chance, the past is just past, the key we should look at is supporting them to be contributing member of our society. Everyone will be benefit from that! As we can see, many ex-prison people have already done a good job in their new life once they got a new job. Target shows a really good inspiration on that, and Virgin as well! I believe these big social enterprises will lead more and more private businesses and employers to hire ex-offeners. We also need support them and make them feel confident to start a new life, it’s important!
    I’m a media student and running a social media campaign ‘Hiring Ex-offenders, Changing Lives’, could you please follow the website for my campaign? https://hiringexoffendersblog.wordpress.com You can find out more inspirational stories there. Thank you!

  • Brian

    Target does not hire felons. i had an interview 2 weeks ago, and the interview paperwork still requested that information, and when i was filling it out, the HR person, and manager that were attending the interview had a shift in body language, a week later i received an email stating that i was not being considered for the job.