BATON ROUGE, LA (WVLA) — It's a little box to check on almost every employment application, ‘have you ever been arrested or convicted of a felony?’ It's an easy question to answer, but for thousands of former inmates it can mean the end of their search for a legitimate career.
"A lot of doors were shut in my face when I went to go look for a job. People say they're going to get back in touch with you, but I guess when they see in there that you've been convicted they throw the application away," explained Dale Huey.
Huey is certified to do just about anything on a car. During the 15 years he spent in prison for armed robbery he took classes to become a certified auto tech. But he said searching for a job once he was released was always a struggle.
"It ain't easy, but you just have to keep going at it. Don’t stop. If one door shuts, open up another one, that's what I did," added Huey who recently secured a job as an auto mechanic.
James Windom works with returning citizens like Huey, he's pushing a movement to ban that box on job applications that asks if you've ever served time.
"When that person goes and fills out that application, the reason that they will get that interview is because of the merit of that individual, the talents and the gifts and experiences that individual has acquired over time, be it even in prison," said Windom.
Windom said at least one lawmaker is willing to author a bill to 'ban the box' this session. It’s legislation he feels will help both former inmates and the communities they live in.
“If we do our job well, that means our communities will be safe. One of the reasons that they are going to be safe is because when he comes out or she comes out, she'll be able to get a great job and sustain his family or her family. They’re going to be doing a host of things that are going to be a benefit to our community," explained Windom.
Windom is hoping to get the legislation passed this session, which starts March 10th.