New NELP Analysis Criticizes Ban-the-Box Studies

Two recent studies claim that “ban the box” policies enacted around the country detrimentally affect the employment of young men of color who do not have a conviction record. One of the authors has boldly argued that the policy should be abandoned outright because it “does more harm than good.”

NELP released a new policy brief today that argues that the studies reach “the wrong conclusion.” NELP’s review of the studies leads to these top-line conclusions:

  • The core problem raised by the studies is not ban-the-box but entrenched racism in the hiring process, which manifests as racial profiling of African Americans as “criminals.”
  • Ban-the-box is working, both by increasing employment opportunities for people with records and by changing employer attitudes toward hiring people with records.
  • When closely scrutinized, the new studies do not support the conclusion that ban-the-box policies are responsible for the depressed hiring of African Americans.
  • The studies highlight the need for a more robust policy response to both boost job opportunities for people with records and tackle race discrimination in the hiring process—not a repeal of ban-the-box laws.

The NELP analysis argues that these studies require exacting scrutiny to ensure that they are not irresponsibly seized upon at a critical time when the nation is being challenged to confront its painful legacy of structural discrimination and criminalization of people of color.

As the Houston Chronicle recently wrote, “the problem isn’t the policy—it’s the racism the policy exposes.”

Read the new policy brief:

Racial Profiling in Hiring: A Critique of New “Ban the Box” Studies


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