Thinking Outside the Box

Past criminal history shouldn’t limit job opportunitiesEmployment app

We strongly support the "Ban the Box" bill - HB 3025 , which helps to remove roadblocks to employment for formerly incarcerated individuals. This bill would prevent employers from asking prospective employees about past criminal histories on job applications until after a conditional offer of employment is made.

After serving their debt to society, many ex-offenders are denied the opportunity to work based solely on their conviction. This makes it difficult if not impossible for individuals with a criminal record to re-enter society successfully and be able to earn a living. With a criminal justice system that is dominated by racial disparities, people of color are disproportionately harmed by employers’ criminal background check procedures.

According to the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ), more than 650,000 individuals are released from prison every year. One of the key elements they identified for successful re-entry into our communities is helping these individuals find and keep a job. If ex-offenders are to succeed as law-abiding, taxpaying citizens, they must have a chance at finding employment – particularly in this tough economic climate.

Across the country, Americans are taking this important first step towards reducing recidivism and making our communities safer. By adopting smart and fair reforms, we can start to lower the incarceration rates in our country (the highest in the world by far) and make better use of the billions of taxpayer dollars currently directed towards prisons and jails each year.

If the Oregon legislature passes this bill, it will join a growing number of states and municipalities to do so. As of November 2014, 13 states and 70 cities had adopted some form of “ban the box” legislation over the prior four years.

HB 3025 is a win-win. It will make Oregon communities safer and give people a second chance to make an honest living.

Read more about our work to end mass incarceration.