Proposed law will help criminals get work in Florence Co.

Felonies and job applications
Photo Source: MGN Online
Photo Source: MGN Online

FLORENCE, SOUTH CAROLINA (WMBF) - A proposed law aimed at helping criminals get jobs is in the works in the City of Florence.

Florence City Councilman Ed Robinson is drafting an ordinance that will make it illegal for job applications to ask applicants whether they have ever been convicted of a crime. Robinson said that question contributes to discrimination and the unemployment numbers.

"Once you've paid your dues, you've gone to jail if you had to; you paid the fines if you had to," said Robinson.  "I think it should go away, at least after a certain period of time."

This proposal has drawn a mixture of opinions from people in Florence.

"If you went to your child's daycare and that question wasn't on the application, wouldn't you want to know?" said Blue Smith.

"If they served their time and they have done a complete 180, as a business owner I would have no problem hiring someone like that," said Doug Summerford.

Robinson modeled his ordinance after one already in place in Philadelphia that keeps employers from asking potential workers if they have ever been convicted of a crime. Through this ordinance, the employer is allowed to ask during the interview.

Robinson added putting the "More Fair Employment Ordinance" to work will level the playing field and improve criminal activity. Robinson said the answer to crime is opportunity, not law enforcement.

"The problem is opportunity," Robinson continued. "Regain hope, give people a reason to live, give people a reason to look for tomorrow."

The ordinance will be submitted to a work-group in May. When a final draft is ready, it will be submitted to city council.