Ban the Box Campaign in BCPosted: June 30, 2014
In May of this year Rochester became the third city, after Buffalo and NYC, to “Ban the Box,” meaning they passed an ordinance that outlaws employers asking potential employees if they are convicted felons. Banning the Box in New York’s third largest city is a positive step for formerly incarcerated people and their allies. Study after study has shown that people who disclose a felony conviction are less likely to be called in for an interview, and that white felons are more likely than black non-felons to get an interview. “The Box” is simply one more way that employers can (illegally) discriminate against the poor and people of color. Since it is already illegal in the US and NYS to discriminate against applicants solely based on whether the person is a felon or not, this type of legislation is entirely appropriate. The law in Rochester does not prohibit employers from doing background checks to prevent people convicted of money laundering, for example, from working in a bank. It simply gives formerly incarcerated people a “Foot in the Door” in a job market that has many barriers. How do we expect formerly incarcerated people not torecidivateif they don’t even have an opportunity to live dignified lives? How do we expect to overcome the racial division created by the Rockefeller Drug Laws, discriminatory housing policies, and white flight without “Ban the Box?” Banning the box will not suddenly give every convicted felon a job, undo 400 years of racism, and reduce the crime rate, but it’s hard to see how any of that is done without such legislation. If you are interested in trying to Ban the Box in Broome County, contact Andrew J Pragacz at firstname.lastname@example.org.