The Advocate: Newark to vote Monday on giving inmates second chance

When Tina Cole talks about her past, she finds honesty is the best policy.

Cole recently moved into her own apartment with her two children — the first place she has paid rent for on her own since she left prison in October. She served six years for selling drugs, a fact she did not hide from her landlord.

“I was a horrible person, but I changed,” Cole said. “I came out a totally different person than when I went in.”

Like finding an apartment, Cole said, the biggest challenge to finding a job for former inmates is a criminal record. Because there is a box to check indicating whether a job applicant has a criminal history, too many former inmates never get a chance to tell their story.

Former inmates will still have to survive background checks, but Cole hopes removing the box would get them in the door to be able to explain what their crime was and how they’ve recovered from it.

On Monday night, the Newark City Council will vote on legislation to remove the checkbox indicating a criminal record from job applications within the city. This initiative has already been adopted by Ohio state governmental agencies.

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