Ex-Convicts & Employment: 'Ban the Box' Campaign Gaining Momentum

Job Applications: Criminal Record Question Could Be Banned

It’s hard enough looking for a job these days, especially with the latest statistics for African American unemployment rate at 11.4%.

The under-employed figure is way higher, which is where you’ll find the majority of ex-convicts. And if you committed a crime and got convicted, it’s even more of a challenge to just get your foot in the door.

If you’ve paid your debt to society, shouldn’t you be afforded the same shot at employment as everyone else? That’s what the “Ban the Box” legislation is all about and some states have begun jumping on board and it could be a lifeline for convicted felons who just want to get on with their lives. The goal of the campaign is to get employers to get rid of the question on employment applications that asks whether a candidate has been convicted of a crime.

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After all, shouldn’t people be judged based on what they can bring to the table and not something buried in their past? Sure, some prior convictions deserve scrutiny, but the the sheer disproportionate number of African Americans who have spent time behind bars compared with other races puts blacks at an overwhelming disadvantage.

According to Business News Daily, the Ban the Box campaign was “started in 2004 by All of US or None, a national civil rights movement of formerly incarcerated people and their families. The campaign was launched after a series of meetings that identified job and housing discrimination as huge barriers to convicted criminals’ successful return to their communities after serving time in jail or prison.”

The Business News Daily article notes that while some form of Ban the Box legislation has been enacted in 12 states for public employers, it is quickly expanding to private businesses, with five states now reportedly having the laws apply to those employers.

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The National Federation of Independent Businesses, however, doesn’t believe “Ban the Box” is good policy for all businesses and shouldn’t be applied with a one size fits all mentality. The organization represents 350,000 small businesses and argue that small businesses do not have the time and manpower to dedicate to screening all potential hires. Finding out later that a new hire has a criminal history that later disqualifies them from the job can cost them. Wasted time can be wasted money for small enterprises.

A study conducted in April by the NFIB, shows 88% of Michigan small business owners were opposed to the state’s “Ban the Box” proposal.

What do you think about ‘Ban the Box’? Leave your opinions in the comment area below.