States Implementing the Fair Chance Ordinance

October 16th, 2014 by Dodie

The Fair Chance Ordinance (“Ban the Box” bill) was first started in the late 1990s. It’s purpose/goal is to have the box that asks if you have a criminal record removed from hiring applications. Doing so will allow ex-offenders to show their skills and what they bring to the table before they are asked about their record.

About 1 in 4 adults have a criminal record in the United States. Without the Ban the Box bill in place, it’s not only difficult and, under some conditions, impossible for them to find and get a job. Some of these ex-offenders become repeat offenders because they can’t get a job to get the things they need and provide for themselves or their families.

There are some states that have passed the Ban the Box bill and have started implementing it, to give past offenders a more fair chance at starting-over.

Those states are:

- California

- Colorado

- New Mexico

- Hawaii

- Nebraska

- Minnesota

- Illinois

- Maryland

- New Jersey 

- Connecticut

- Rhode Island

- Maine

- Delaware (except Wilmington and New Castle)

Although some of the other states have not fully adopted the Ban the Box bill, some of the cities and some counties in those states do have and put it into action.

Those cities and counties are:

- Seattle and Spokane, Washington

- Multnomah, Oregon

- Austin, Texas and Travis County

- New Orleans, Louisiana

- Kansas City, Missouri

- Dane County in Milwaukee

- Ann Harbor, Detroit, and East Kalamazoo, Michigan and Genesee and Muskegon Counties

- Indianapolis, Indiana

- Memphis, Tennessee

- Louisville, Kentucky

- Atlanta, Georgia and Fulton County

– Jacksonville and Tampa, Florida

- Canton, Cincinnati, Cleveland, Massillon and Youngstown, Ohio

- Carrboro, Charlotte, Durham and Spring Lake, North Carolina and Cumberl

and and Durham Counties

- Philadelphia and Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania

– Buffalo, New York City and Rochester, New York

- Alexandria, Newport News, Norfolk, Petersburg, Portsmouth and Richmond, Virginia

The rules under Ban the Box simply stop employers from asking about an applicant’s criminal history at the beginning of the application process. It is put in place so questions about someone’s criminal history are looked into after the initial interview has been passed by the applicant.

As stated before, there are some states, cities and counties that have passed the bill, and there are more that haven’t yet. With those that have, it couldn’t be done without the support of some institutions or groups. Some of the many institutions or groups that are supportive of the bill are the following:

- U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission

- Chamber of Commerce in San Francisco

- Cincinnati Motion

- Integrated Justice Alliance and the New Jersey Institute for Social Justice

- Good Seed, Good Ground

- The Orange County Partnership to End Homelessness

- The Formerly Convicted Citizens Project

- Commissioner of Human Resource and Mayor Reed of the City of Atlanta

– Partnership for Safety and Justice

Although there are many institutions and groups that support Ban the Box, there are some institutions and groups that don’t. One group that opposes it is the Syracuse business group, and efforts to pass the ordinance ended last September with the proposal being withdrawn. In Baltimore, Maryland where the bill was actually approved and signed on May 28, groups like the Greater Baltimore Committee, a regional organization of civic leaders, and the National Federation of Independent Business that represents small and independent business owners are definitely not keen on agreeing with their leaders.

The box that is found on applications to be marked for people that have been convicted has been known to discourage people from even applying for jobs. That can narrow the applicant pool of people that are qualified for positions. The Fair Chance Ordinance is one simple change in policies that creates, as said, a fair chance for people with criminal records to apply and interview for a job. They are first judged based on their qualifications and not immediately on any past record for which they have already done their time.

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