Ban The Box pledge helps the formerly incarcerated

Contracting with prisons is easy when inmates are behind bars, but are the same institutions willing to employ ex-prisoners upon their release?

Many believe that employers need to begin to shift their thinking on this question.

According to the Brennan Center for Justice, “nearly one-third of the adult working age population has a criminal record,” and “America now houses roughly the same number people with criminal records as it does four-year college graduates.”

A 2009 U.S. Department of Justice survey found that a past criminal conviction of any sort reduced the likelihood of a job offer by 50 percent.

The DOJ also found that the negative effect of a conviction has twice as much an impact “for black job-seekers” than whites.

Still, in a 2012 survey, the Brennan Center found that “86% of employers continue to use criminal background checks on some candidates, and 69% check all candidates.”

And nearly a third of respondents said an arrest without a conviction would be influential in their hiring decision.

A national campaign called “Ban The Box” asks communities to pledge to invest in formerly incarcerated people, rather than limiting their ability to become fully integrated back into society after prison.

Individuals who take the Ban The Box pledge promise to “welcome formerly incarcerated peoples into my community and to support changes in policies that discriminate against the formerly incarcerated.”

Employers can pledge to “hire and support the formerly incarcerated; support the elimination of restrictions on participation that may exclude the formerly incarcerated; and  encourage others to also institute fair hiring practices.”