In the News
Lawmakers push to stop federal employers from asking about criminal history until end of job interview
Source: Washington Examiner
Apr 06 2017
A group of bipartisan lawmakers — led by Sen. Cory Booker, D-N.J. — is asking Congress to "ban the box."
Booker is joined by Sens. Ron Johnson, R-Wis., Tammy Brown, D-Wis., Joni Ernst, R-Iowa and Sherrod Brown, R-Ohio, in legislation filed this week that would prohibit federal employers and contractors from asking a job applicant about his or her criminal history until the final stages of the interview process.
"The barriers faced by incarcerated people when they try to transition back into society are a big part of why our criminal justice system is so broken," Booker said. "Our bill helps to address this challenge by giving those who have paid their dues a second chance by putting jobs in the federal government or with a federal contractor within reach."
A bipartisan bill is also being introduced in the House by Rep.s Elijah Cummings, D-Md., and Darrell Issa, R-Calif.
The Fair Chance Act, the lawmakers say, will better help formerly incarcerated inmates who have served their sentences reintegrate into society. Then, they can gain meaningful employment and be able to avoid falling back into the criminal justice system.
Similar "ban the box" legislation has been embraced by 26 states and more than 150 cities and counties nationwide. Former President Barack Obama was also vocal in his support of such changes being enacted on the federal level.
"We applaud the sponsors of these strong bills for their leadership in forging a bipartisan consensus, which is what it will take for Congress to cross the finish line and enact fair-chance hiring legislation," said Maurice Emsellem, director of the National Employment Law Project's Access and Opportunity Program. "These are federal reforms whose time has come, thanks to the grassroots movement that has taken hold across the states."
The legislation would include exceptions for jobs related to law enforcement, national security and classified information. It would also require the Bureau of Justice Statistics to coordinate with the U.S. Census Bureau to report on the employment statistics of formerly incarcerated individuals.