This is an effort—with the best of intentions—to remove from job applications the question “Have you ever committed a felony?”, but the outcome is that the employers who decide to do this will have to resort to criminal background checks on all employees to determine which ones have criminal records, a vital piece of information to have for any employer.

However, as more and more employers do conduct background checks automatically, banning the box is a good way for an ex-felon to get past the first stage of employment and may then be able to provide the information needed to be hired, even after a background check reveals their record.

This article from the Kansas City Star examines the issue.

An excerpt.

Kevin Hurley paused Wednesday while painting an apartment in Kansas City, Kan., to say how much his life has changed since he got a job.

Hurley, 55, was in prison for 30 years and five months. When he was released on Jan. 18 this year he had little hope of landing work because of his criminal history.

He found, like other ex-offenders, that many job applications ask upfront about arrests or convictions, and employers’ policies immediately reject them.

That’s why Hurley, imprisoned for murder and robbery, was happy to learn that Target Corp. announced this week it will remove criminal history questions from its applications nationwide. The company joins a small but growing number of organizations nationwide in a “ban the box” movement to eliminate that kind of blank on application forms.

“It’s really hard if no one wants to give you a chance,” Hurley said. “I never forget about those past years, but now I want to keep those years behind me. … I want others to know what I went through to keep others from making the same mistakes.”

Thanks to the TurnAround program for ex-offenders, offered by Catholic Charities of Kansas City-St. Joseph, Hurley got workforce training and mentors. Foutch Brothers, a property management company that’s working to convert the former St. Margaret Hospital to apartments, accepted his job application and hired him.

Several Kansas City area organizations like TurnAround are working to help people like Hurley become better job candidates, giving them a chance to sell themselves to employers based on skills or training instead of being automatically rejected. Now, instead of roaming the streets or returning to crime, Hurley has an apartment, a car and a wage-earning job.