Ban the box law supporters have traveled to the White House to urge President Barack Obama to sign an executive order making it illegal to ask potential employees if they have ever been to prison. Top White House officials reportedly met with Ban the Box activists on Wednesday afternoon.
One of the ban the box activists stated during an interview with Politico that “People shouldn’t be penalized for their whole life for indiscretions they have made.” The Ban the Box organization is reportedly feels that more than 70 million Americans possess criminal backgrounds, which make it “harder for them to find work.”
The National Employment Law Project, which is working in conjunction with the ban the box campaign, said “people of color” make up 60 percent of the prison population and are therefore “disproportionately impacted” by criminal background inquiries. The ban the box campaign supporters also reportedly feel that requiring potential new hires to reveal whether or not they have been in prison before being offered a job is not in line with criminal justice rehabilitation goals.
Currently, a total of 14 states and the District of Columbia have ban the box laws on the books. In February, Georgia Governor Nathan Deal signed similar legislation in his state.
The push for President Obama to sign an executive order and making a federal ban the box mandate to last for the remainder of his term in office is backed by a coalition of civil rights and religious groups. A ban the box law letter sent to the White House was signed by representatives from the American Civil Liberties Union, the AFL-CIO, the the National Council of La Raza, the NAACP Legal Defense and Education Fund, and the Presbyterian Church, among other groups.
If President Obama signs a ban the box executive order, potential new federal employees will not have to let government interviewers know if they are about to issue a taxpayer funded paycheck to an ex-con. Some government agencies would be reportedly exempted from the ban the box Obama executive order, such as the Department of Homeland Security.
The Department of Labor issued a “warning” to contractors for the federal government who refused to hire felons in 2013. The agency informed contractors that excluding applicants with a criminal background could lead to legal trouble due to anti-discrimination laws. To date, there have been no known court filings or fines issued to government contractors who have refused to ban the box on job applications.
How do you feel about the ban the box campaign and the possible President Obama executive order which could make it illegal for employers to refuse to hire individuals with prison records?
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