BAN THE BOX
Opening Pathways to Employment
Our current criminal justice system creates multiple barriers for individuals who are released from prison, preventing them from successfully reintegrating in society. Convicted felons are barred from certain jobs, may not vote, and face other obstacles that cripple their ability to create a better life for themselves.
Through public forums and by raising awareness among elected officials, the Coalition to Dismantle the New Jim Crow is educating individuals about their rights and increasing community awareness of what needs to be changed. Public safety, accountability to taxpayers, and opportunities for the formerly incarcerated are interdependent with true justice and fairness.
What is meant by “Ban The Box?”
The “box” is the place on many employment applications that asks whether the applicant has ever been convicted of a crime or incarcerated. Some applications even inquire about arrest.
In many cases, this box is one of the first questions on an application—even for jobs that don’t require a background check. Removing these questions from the employment application at the initial stage of the hiring process would allow those responsible for making the hiring decision to learn first about a candidate’s experience, skills, and personality as they relate to the position being filled—before learning about the individual’s record.
How would a better screening process work?
Following an initial positive impression for experience, skills, and fit with the position, the applicant would then be able to explain the nature of any offence, when it occurred, and when any incarceration or probation ended. He or she could also describe successful rehabilitation efforts and certifications if available. Applicants would also be given the opportunity to review their records to determine accuracy. The hiring official would adhere to federal Equal Opportunity Commission guidelines, avoiding a negative evaluation when the crime is unrelated to the job duties.
If families of the formerly incarcerated are going to heal, prosper, and contribute to our community, everyone must have an opportunity for employment, housing, and education. Employment is one of the most effective tools for reducing violence and recidivism—returning to prison. It results in safer communities and lowers the cost to taxpayers of further.