News from City Hall
City Communications Office
City of Kansas City, Mo.
CONTACT: City Communications 816-513-1349
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: Sept. 9, 2010
Potential discrimination toward ex-offenders investigated
The City of Kansas City, Mo., Civil Rights Division will investigate possible racial discrimination toward ex-offenders who were denied employment or housing because of their criminal record.
An employment refusal or a housing denial based solely on criminal records can have a disparate impact on racial minorities. National and local statistics show that African-Americans and Hispanics have a high incarceration rate that is disproportionate to their percentages of the population. For example, Justice Department statistics show that 38 percent of U.S. prisoners are African-American, compared to 12 percent of the general population.
The Civil Rights Division enforces the City’s anti-discrimination ordinance, which prohibits both intentional and disparate discrimination in employment, housing and public accommodations. If it is determined that an entity’s practice of excluding ex-offenders from employment or housing has a disparate impact on African-Americans, Hispanics or any other protected class, then the entity must prove why the person’s offense would cause a denial.
“If criminal histories are taken into account for employment, employers must also consider the nature of the job, the seriousness of the offense and how long ago it occurred,” said Mickey Dean, Civil Rights Division manager.
Dean added that it would make sense to disqualify a bank employee with a past conviction for embezzlement, but not necessarily for a DUI.
“When people with criminal histories know that reform is possible, when they can strive for something greater without being repeatedly penalized for their past grievances, this community will be a safer and better place for all of us to live and work,” said Lora McDonald, program director Second Chance, a Kansas City Metropolitan Crime Commission initiative.
For more information or media inquiries, please contact Mickey Dean at the Civil Rights Division, 816-513-1836.