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May 21 2014

Statewide Ban the Box Reducing Unfair Barriers to Employment of People With Criminal Records

Nationwide, over 50 cities and counties have now taken the critical step of removing unfair barriers to employment in their hiring policies. Widely known as “ban the box,” these initiatives remove the question on the job application about an individual’s conviction history and delay the background check inquiry until later in the hiring process. Momentum for the policy has grown exponentially, particularly in recent years.

Today there are a total of ten states representing nearly every region of the country that have adopted ban-the-box policies—California (2013, 2010), Colorado (2012), Connecticut (2010), Hawaii (1998), Illinois (2013), Maryland (2013), Massachusetts (2010), Minnesota (2013, 2009), New Mexico (2010), and Rhode Island (2013). Hawaii, Massachusetts, Minnesota, and Rhode Island have banned the box for private employers, which many advocates embrace as the next step in the evolution of these policies.

Federally, the EEOC has endorsed ban-the-box as a best practice in its guidance for employment decisions considering arrests and convictions. In an era of extreme mass incarceration, ban-the-box campaigns provide a platform to educate the public about the stigma of a criminal record and the real consequences to our society of depriving millions of Americans with past convictions of economic stability.