Ban the Box Efforts

Jan 16, 2014

Most job applications have a box on page one that asks applicants if they’ve been convicted of a crime.  Critics say that’s one big reason that people coming out of prison can’t get work and end up back behind bars.  Now, there’s a move in the legislature to ban the box.

Virginia’s prisons offer a range of educational and vocational training programs, and many inmates go home with new skills and a commitment to live within the laws, but often they’re frustrated by the inability to find work.

“I mean they literally can’t get an interview.  People won’t even talk to them.”

That’s State Delegate Rob Krupicka, who represents Arlington, Alexandria and part of Fairfax County.  He’s joined forces with State Senator Don McEachin from Richmond to offer a bill that would ban the box on state job applications.  

“Keeping people out of prisons saves a heck of a lot of money.  It’s good to have folks working instead of committing crime, and it’s not a very big burden for an employer, because we don’t say you can’t check their criminal background.   We just say ‘Give them a shot at an interview before you discount them.’ ”

The bill excludes certain jobs and agencies that cannot, by state or federal law, employ people with a criminal history. Nine other states and 45 cities and counties have already banned the box, and some require their vendors to do so.  When Minnesota voted to go along, one of its largest companies – Target – also changed employment forms there and at stores nationwide.