Going Beyond “Ban the Box” to Give a Person with a Criminal History a Second Chance
Date:  08-11-2015

While “Ban the Box” ordinances have opened the door to employment by a crack, a leading conservative policy analyst suggests a way to push it wide open
Criminal justice reform advocated know that being gainfully employed and having a secure place to live are top priorities to those reintegrating back into the community after incarceration. Having a job and a stable place to live have been shown to be major factors in reducing recidivism, yet for far too many people with a criminal history obtaining those two goals are unobtainable.

Job applications that have a box to check if one has been convicted of a crime are often discarded immediately if the box is filled in. People who are highly qualified to fill a business’s needs are overlooked and the frustration of not being deemed employable can break down a man or women. The same thing happens in housing. A prior conviction, no matter how old, often precludes a person from renting an apartment even though the person has paid his or her dues to society by serving a prison or jail sentence.

The “Ban the Box” began in in the 1990’s in Hawaii and steadily picked up in the ensuing years. As of this month 52 U.S. municipalities and 17 states had laws on the books regarding “Ban the Box.” While the “Ban the Box” initiative was a good place to start, Real Clear Policy offers an alternative idea that could push the door open for people with a criminal past to find decent jobs and housing.

The ability of people to have the chance to seal their records to most eyes, and be able to leave the box stating “Have you ever been convicted of a crime?” blank, is an idea that is being put forth by Greg Glod, a leading policy analyst for Right on Crime, and the Center for Effective Justice at the Texas Public Policy Foundation. Read more about this intriguing idea here.