Ban The Box: What This New Law Means For Potential Employees With A Criminal Record

SINGH: Let’s turn now to an issue that affects roughly 70 million Americans – people convicted of felonies or misdemeanors. This is a group that studies show are at a serious disadvantage when it comes to finding work. A new law in California hopes to fix that problem. It’s known as ban-the-box legislation. The box refers to the section in job applications that potential employees check if they have a criminal record.

AVERY: That’s exactly correct, Lakshmi. It’s about a job applicant being viewed as a person, as a worker with qualifications and not just as a checkbox on an application. It really comes down to the dignity of people with records and how it feels and how much it impacts their lives to be turned away at step one when they submit application after application.

AVERY: It’s important to remember that this is an issue that affects all of us. Seventy million people across the United States have an arrest or conviction record. These aren’t your stereotype of a, quote, unquote, “criminal.” These are our community members, our family members. Some estimates put it as nearly half of U.S. children have at least one parent with a record.

So this is holding back our next generation of U.S. citizens and their ability to succeed. It also affects our economy overall. When people with records can’t reach their full potential, can’t work, it holds back our economy. And some estimates put that as affecting our GDP by $78 to $87 billion per year.

You can listen to the full audio of the interview below, or you can see the full transcript and original audio on NPR.


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