"Ban the Box" Helps Ex-Cons Find Work, but May Hurt Prospects for Law-Abiding Blacks

Mother Jones 

As a bipartisan consensus on the need for criminal justice reform has solidified in recent years, one of the changes advocates have pushed for is "banning the box"--that is, removing from job applications the box people must check if they have had a felony conviction. Ban-the-box laws don't prevent employers from asking applicants about a criminal record, but rather delay the questioning until later in the process, after an applicant has made it past that first hurdle. The idea is that applicants with criminal records can then get an honest opportunity for consideration, as opposed to being eliminated from the get-go. Ban the box has also been touted by civil rights groups as a way to reduce unemployment among young black men (who disproportionately have criminal records) and thereby to lessen the racial employment gap. Twenty-three states have passed ban-the-box laws that apply to public employers, while nine also apply the policy to private employers.