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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