On January 17, the Metro Organization for Racial and Economic Equity (MORE2)—Gamaliel’s affiliate in the Kansas City metro area—held a press conference to announce that an ordinance to expand Kansas City, Missouri’s current “ban the box” policy was imminent. MORE2’s action was part of a series of actions taken by other Gamaliel affiliates across the country (see below) to highlight the need for public policies that dismantle the injustices of a criminal justice system that promotes mass incarceration and continues to punish people with conviction histories long after they have served their time in the system.
In 2013, MORE2 successfully led city officials to pass the first “ban the box” ordinance which removed the question about felony convictions from employment applications for most city employees. Most recently, MORE2 has worked with Councilman Jermaine Reed to adopt a policy that would bar both private and public employers from asking applicants about criminal records and delay such inquiries until later in the hiring process to give people with conviction histories a fair chance at employment. In addition, the ordinance would bar the question about felony convictions on rental housing applications.
The first reading of the ordinance occurred at the city council meeting the day after MORE2’s press conference. It was approved unanimously by the Transportation and Infrastructure Committee on January 25; and it was passed into law by the full council on February 1 with a vote of 10-1. The ordinance takes effect on June 9, 2018.
The Reverend Chauncy Black, a retired pastor who dedicates much of his free time to the MORE2 Criminal Justice Task Force work in Kansas City responded in this way: “I am reminded of the scripture in Matthew that says, ‘I was in prison and you came to me’ . . . and then Jesus goes on to say ‘whatsoever you do to the least of these, you do to me.’”
For more information about MORE2’s work on “ban the box,” contact Lora McDonald, MORE2 Executive Director, [email protected]
In other communities across the Gamaliel Network, affiliates took the following actions:
ABLE (Atlanta, GA) – held a Facebook Live event focused on restorative justice followed two weeks later by meetings and an email action urging City Councilmembers to pass an ordinance to end cash bail for minor infractions. The measure passed the Council on February 11.
Recorded Twitter Stream
Faith Coalition for the Common Good (Springfield, IL) – held a press conference to announce a new partnership with the Sangamon County Juvenile Detention Center that would break the cycle of mass incarceration of teens by focusing on leadership development of formerly incarcerated teens.
News Channel 20 | WAND TV
Genesis (Oakland, CA) – made a presentation to the County Board in order to get restorative justice alternatives to youth incarceration on the Public Safety agenda.
WISDOM and EXPO (Madison, WI) – held a forum with more than 100 people and 8 candidates for governor focused on crimeless revocations of parole. All candidates pledged to work to fix revocations if elected.
The CAP Times
MCU (St. Louis, MO – event held at Missouri State Capitol in Jefferson City, MO) – held an action focused on “Raise the Age” in order to ensure that 17-year-olds are processed in juvenile court.
NOAH (Nashville, TN) – held a press conference focused on school discipline and restorative justice and secured meeting with Superintendent of Schools to discuss funding for restorative justice programs.
The Tennessean | The Tennessee Tribune | YouTube
For more information about Gamaliel’s criminal justice work across the country, contact David Liners, WISDOM Executive Director, [email protected]
Kansas City, Missouri is one of more than 150 cities and counties that have adopted “ban the box” laws. A study released by the National Employment Law Project (NELP) in 2011 estimated that approximately 64.6 million ex-offenders in the United States – more than one in four American adults – have a criminal record. NELP has since revised the number of potential ex-offenders up to 70 million people. NELP also provides a ban the box toolkit: http://www.nelp.org/publication/ban-the-box-fair-chance-hiring-state-and-local-guide/