Jun 19 2014

‘Ban the Box’ Campaign Aimed At Unlocking Jobs for Former Felons

While unemployment rates in the US are currently at 6.3%, joblessness among those with prior felonies can be as high as 75%. Many former felons find themselves confined to jobs in construction or plumbing and often are forced to become self-employed.

To address this problem, a campaign called Ban the Box began in 2004 after complaints surfaced about job and housing discrimination against felons. The campaign seeks to give people a better chance at gaining employment by removing the question about prior felonies from job applications.

In California, a state law which passed in 2013 will take effect on July 1st, removing the question from most job applications. While job applicants can still be asked about prior felonies, the question can only come further along in the application process.

Critics argue that removing the question of prior felonies adds unnecessary time, expense and liability which can cause delays in filling open positions. Nationwide only ten states have enacted the law but campaigners are hopeful that more will come on board.

GUEST: Michelle Rodriguez, Staff Attorney with National Employment Law Project

Visit www.nelp.org/banthebox for more information.

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