Should background checks be part of the employee application process?

Florence City Councilman Ed Robinson plans to introduce an ordinance that says businesses in the City of Florence can't ask about a person's criminal history on a job application.

Robinson has the ordinance already drafted and says it's needed to help give second chances.

"Once you've paid your dues, you've gone to jail if you have to, you've paid your fine if you have to, then I think that it should go away, at least after a period of time. But I think the way things are now,these things are restricting people for the rest of their lives," Robinson said.

He doesn't mind employers inquiring about the potential candidate's criminal history during the interview process.

He says that gives the person time to explain their arrest and or conviction.

"It's just that your application just don't go in the trash can right from the very beginning. At least it gives you a little more of a chance, little better of a chance in order to get hired."

Antwan Wells, owner of a barbershop in downtown Florence, supports Robinson's proposed ordinance.

He's also served time for a crime.

Wells says he was fortunate, but some others in his shoes aren't so lucky.

"If the public and the community doesn't allow them to get that second chance, then they could go back to doing crime. So, I think that if we can get this ordinance passed, so ,that people can actually have a second chance at life, they can actually show society that they can be productive citizens as well," said Antwan Wells.

Barry Townsend owns a convenience store in Florence and says his job applications ask if a person's ever pled guilty or been convicted of a crime.

Townsend says it's his right to screen potential employees the way he sees fit, as long as it complies with state and federal laws.

"I don't believe the city council has any jurisdiction in this sort of matter. You know we have state and federal employment laws that I don't think the city council can supercede," explained Barry Townsend.

He says it doesn't make much sense to wait and ask a person during the interview process if they've been arrested or convicted of a crime, when you can find out through the application.

Robinson says his intentions are to help those who have not made the best decisions in life regain hope and employment.

Florence City Council will discuss his proposal during a workshop session on May 2.