Task force discusses ban the box, crime solutions

COLUMBIA, Mo. - Columbia violence was once again the topic of discussion for city leaders and residents at Wednesday night's Mayor's Task Force on Community Violence meeting.

The Task Force also talked about a "Ban the Box" initiative.  It would bar employers from asking if a person is a convicted felon -- at least on job applications.

Members called Wednesday's meeting "productive", after the meeting before barely made a quorum to start.

"I think we're moving along on the right track," councilwoman Laura Nauser said.

Task Force member Paul Prevo agreed.

"We've had some really good small group discussion coming up with solutions with can bring back to the whole group," Prevo said.

Originally members were supposed to focus discussion mainly on the Ban the Box ordinance, but spent a lot of the time talking about solutions to ongoing crime.

Members are still being tight-lipped on what their ideas are to curb the crime, but said some of them pertain to educating the community.

"Telling the community what some of the precursors to violence are, what we as a community can do to reduce this violence," Prevo said.

But Prevo said they need input from the community to move forward before making a decision.

Another decision the council faces -- the ban the box ordinance.

Several members agreed this is a good, fair initiative.

"In America, we say you do the crime you do the time. Once you've done the time you've paid your debts," Prevo said.  "It's an unfair barrier to not get gainful employment and turn their lives around."

Nauser agreed.

"We're not saying you can't ask the question, it's just taking it off the application so if maybe someone does have the education and work skills you're looking for, you'll at least allow that person to talk to you," Nauser said.

The task force will have three meetings open for public forum in the next few months.  Stay with ABC 17 News to find out when and where those meetings are so you can give your input.

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