Sarasota becomes latest to 'ban the box' on job applications

- It took a lot of hard work for Sherry Evey to get a job.  She now works as a lead cook in Sarasota.  But, before that she could barely find a job.

"I would get so depressed. I would even start crying. I wouldn't want to go on another job interview and have the door slammed in my face," she said.

Evey has experience and is a people person.  She also has multiple drug convictions and is a felon.  That made it hard to find a job.  It wasn't until years after becoming clean and proving herself as a volunteer that the Salvation Army hired her.

"I have struggled with applications and finding a job. What I did is put a portfolio together of places that I worked and letters of recommendation," she continued.

Evey and many others believe once they check a box stating they were convicted of a crime, that their chance for a job was over.

"Once that box is checked, a lot of people just throw that application into the trash," she said.

Sarasota Mayor Willie Shaw believes in second chances.  So the city has taken that question off of applications.

"There is none of us, nobody who hasn't had a second chance at something. Each day we get a second chance to make better what we didn't do right yesterday," said Mayor Shaw.

Applicants will still go through a background check to see if they are the right fit.  That is during the final stage of the hiring process, versus the "check the box," which comes at the beginning.

St. Petersburg, Tampa, and Clearwater already have a similar hiring process.

"That does not mean that you won't be scrutinized.  There will be certain positions that you won't be able to attain and others that you may be able to attain," Shaw added.

It is about giving another shot to those who deserve it.

"Regardless of what their background is or anything, there's a lot of good people out there that are trying to make it and just need a break," offered Evey.

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