South Fulton becomes latest Ga. city to ‘Ban the Box’

Job seekers looking to work for the city of South Fulton will no longer check a box on an application if they have a criminal background.

City Council passed a “Ban the Box” ordinance at its Tuesday meeting.

The legislation was sponsored by Mayor Pro Tem Mark Baker, who referenced a study from the National Employment Law Project showing 33 states and more than 150 cities and counties have adopted a similar policy.

Atlanta City Council approved legislation banning the box in October 2014.

Gov. Nathan Deal followed up in February 2015 for all state jobs.

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The state’s move was recommended by Deal’s criminal justice reform council in January 2014. That council said job applicants should be given the opportunity to discuss their “unique circumstances” in face-to-face interviews with potential employers, The Atlanta Journal-Constitution reported at the time.

Amy Henderson, spokeswoman of the Georgia Municipal Association, said even cities without such an ordinance may not ask criminal background questions right away.

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According to the NELP study, South Fulton joins Atlanta, Albany, Augusta and Columbus as the only cities in Georgia with a "Ban the Box" law. Fulton, Cherokee and Macon-Bibb counties have passed similar versions.

Baker said the city also plans to work with Fulton County Solicitor Keith Gammage and offer several events helping people expunge their arrest history from their record.

“We have to get our people back to work,” Baker said.

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