Las Vegas Sun

September 18, 2019

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North Las Vegas aims to help job seekers with criminal records

North Las Vegas City Hall

Steve Marcus

A view of the North Las Vegas City Hall Tuesday, Nov. 12, 2013.

North Las Vegas today became the first municipality in Nevada to eliminate the box routinely found on job applications that potential employees must check to indicate they have criminal records.

Adoption of the so-called “ban the box” policy allows those with criminal records a better chance to advance in the hiring process, city officials said. Background checks would still be conducted but only after applicants have the opportunity to meet those doing the hiring.

Proponents of the policy made a presentation to the North Las Vegas City Council on Oct. 5 Although they did not vote on the issue, several members of the City Council indicated their support, and the policy was adopted administratively.

“By not giving people a fair chance at employment, by not giving them the opportunity to support themselves and their families in a productive way, we are in effect pushing them to reoffend,” Mayor Pro Tem Isaac Barron said. “That serves nobody, and in fact, does a grave injustice to our communities and all of our residents by working against public safety.”

He noted that studies show that recidivism rates across the U.S. range from about 31 percent to 70 percent. Recidivism rates for ex-offenders who are placed in jobs shortly after their release, however, drop dramatically — to as low as 3 percent, he said.

State and federal laws will still apply, city officials said, so any positions exempt by statute (police officers, for example) will still be subject to initial disclosure. The change affects applicants for city employment only, not private employers.

City officials made the announcement during a Hope for Prisoners graduation ceremony. The Las Vegas organization, which helps ex-offenders with re-entry, worked with 336 individuals in 2015, 131 of whom lived in North Las Vegas, CEO Jon D. Ponder told the City Council earlier this month.

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