For millions of Americans, applying for jobs is an exercise in futility. Often, applications are thrown away before an employer has even considered the job-seeker. The reason? A criminal history revealed on a job application. U. S. Senators Jeff Merkley, Patty Murray and Ron Wyden joined 24 other Democratic Senators sent a letter to urge President Obama to “ban the box” asking him to issue an executive order that would bar federal contractors from asking about criminal histories until later in the hiring process. It is the latest action in what has become a broad social movement to reduce recidivism and give ex-convicts a second chance at employment.
Ban the Box policies prohibit employers from asking about criminal records on their job applications.
Steady employment is a key factor in reducing recidivism among ex-convicts, according to a 2010 study published in the academic journal, Justice Quarterly.
Ban the box policies may also foster economic growth: another 2010 study estimated a loss of $57 to $65 million dollars to the U.S. economy due to unemployment and underemployment of ex-offenders.