Week Twenty-NINE Justice: ban The Box    2nd chance too many? 
The United States has roughly 70 million Americans who have been convicted of a misdemeanor or a felony. Of course with each conviction, all crimes are different, however regardless of how non-threatening the crime is, these Americans are significantly disadvantaged. Should citizens who have paid for the crimes they've committed and be able to gain employment after the fact?

A new law called "Banning the Box legislation" has put lawmakers in a bind. The box refers to the section in job applications that potential employees check if they have a criminal record. Studies show that when a person checks the box on an initial application, their likelihood of a callback drops by half. If that applicant is a person of color, the chances decrease even more (see chart example below). 

Banning the box gives a job applicant the opportunity to be viewed as a person, as a worker with qualifications and not just as a checkbox on an application. This legislation is a refreshing way to create hope for ex-offenders, but there should also be laws passed for those who have been convicted of non-threatening crimes. Non-threatening second-chance offenders should have the opportunity to work in companies and be viewed as trustworthy employees. Should it be fair that if a citizen makes a minor mistake, that he or she has to pay for it for the remainder of their life?

Be the Change! 

Over 150 cities and 29 states have adopted "Ban the Box," which makes up over two thirds of the U.S. population. To support the continuation of this policy being adopted across the U.S, support your state and local efforts to enact fair-chance policy. Here are a few steps that you can take take to help. 

  1. Check out the National Employment Law Project Ban the Box Toolkit, which provides a step by step guide for advocates on who to launch this campaign in your own city. There are resources in the downloadable PDF that include how to draft a law, build your network, support your outreach, and develop the media.
  2. Watch the NAACP's "A Fair Chance: #BandtheBox," a 5 minute explanation on why this is necessary for all ex-offenders, but especially African American ex-offenders. 

Share Your Story! 
Has Banning the Box helped you or someone you know successfully gain employment? Has your state not adopted the legislation and you or someone else hasn't found employment because of a criminal record? Let us hear from you. 
 Share your story.