New London job applications will no longer ask about criminal past

NEW LONDON, Conn. (WTNH) — The standard job application for the city of New London is about to look a bit different.

Some say the question at the top of page four is what puts some people at a disadvantage.

People like Devin Johnson – a pastor at Tabernacle of Deliverance and Praise Ministries in Norwich. 16 years ago he was a different person.

“I had drug charges,” says Johnson. “I was a drug dealer.”

He applauds New London’s move to remove from its application the question “Have you been convicted of any offense other than a minor traffic violation?”

In the past Johnson wouldn’t bother checking yes or listing his charges.

“Just get up and walk out,” says Johnson. “Just get discouraged as soon as you get to that part.”

“If we get to a point where someone has come out on the top of an eligibility list, is about to be offered employment, after hundreds of people have applied, and they have some drug conviction from twenty years ago it would be senseless in my view not to hire that person and we’d be losing a good employee,” says Mayor Daryl Finizio.

The change may not apply to jobs posted last week but will for any new openings.

While some question whether or not criminal background information should be left off the application, Johnson says it gives hope to those who have turned their lives around.

His chance came at a car wash. “They let me know it was a risk to take me on but they did and I worked hard at every job,” says Johnson.

Years later though he says his past stopped him from working as a prison chaplain even with a former warden’s recommendation.

“Criminals regardless of their past when they give up it hurts everybody,” says Johnson. “Cause that person turns into a thief, they turn into a drug dealer. You know they turn into something else by trying to feed their family or feed themselves. So this is a better way to help everybody. It helps everybody.”

The city will continue to do criminal background checks before hiring a new employee.

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