‘Ban The Box’ Bill Introduced
The federal Fair Chance Act—bipartisan legislation to expand job opportunities and reduce recidivism by requiring federal contractors and federal agencies to “ban the box” on job applications—was introduced September 10. Reforming hiring practices has widespread support from both public and private institutions, Senator Sherrod Brown (D-Ohio) noted, citing 18 states and more than 100 cities and counties that have already begun to implement fair chance hiring practices that prevent job applicants from being asked about prior convictions until later in the hiring process.
“Fair hiring practices help ensure that people who have served their time can reenter the workforce without continuing to be punished for their past mistakes,” Brown said. “All Americans deserve the chance to earn a living and make a positive contribution to their communities. These reforms would ensure that they have that chance and help to restore hope and opportunity to those who have served their time and paid their dues to society.”
According to Senator Cory Booker (D-NJ), “Empowering people with records to become productive members of society instead of repeat offenders is not only fiscally sound, it is the morally responsible thing to do.”
The Fair Chance Act (S. 2021; text not yet available) was introduced by U.S. Senator Cory Booker (D-NJ) and U.S. Representative Elijah Cummings (D-NJ-7). Cosponsors of the bill include U.S. Sens. Sherrod Brown (D-OH), Ron Johnson (R-WI), Tammy Baldwin (D-WI), and Joni Ernst (R-IA); along with U.S. Reps. Darrell Issa (R-CA-49), Sheila Jackson Lee (D-TX-18), Earl Blumenauer (D-OR-3), Bonnie Watson Coleman (D-NJ-12), Cedric Richmond (D-LA-2), John Conyers (D-MI-13), and Bobby Scott (D-VA-3).
“Ban the box” refers to the section on job application forms that inquires whether the applicant has ever been convicted. For the more than 70 million Americans who have criminal convictions, this barrier to employment early in the hiring process can serve as categorical disqualification, which limits their ability to provide for themselves and their families. Studies have shown that an inability to find employment is one of the leading causes of reoffending.
Under “ban the box,” employers would retain the ability to inquire about past convictions or conduct background checks regarding a potential employee before making an employment decision. Positions related to law enforcement and national security duties and positions that require access to classified information would be exempted.
The Fair Chance Act is reportedly supported by The Center for Urban Families, Bend the Arc Jewish Action, The National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP), The American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU), and The National Black Prosecutors Association.
Reposted with permission from Wolters Kluwer.
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