Last week, Congressman Hansen Clarke introduced H.R. 6220, the Ban the Box Act of 2012, which would help prevent employment discrimination against people with conviction records. Aimed at reducing crime and unemployment by giving people with conviction records a second chance, this historic legislation would prohibit most employers from asking job applicants about their criminal histories until after a conditional job offer has been made. H.R. 6220 would allow people with conviction records to be considered for employment based on their qualifications rather than mistakes they made in the past. This legislation would also provide strong protections for employers and the public, as certain jobs would be exempted from these requirements in order to ensure public safety.
The Ban the Box Act of 2012 builds on laws that have been successfully implemented in states such as Minnesota and Massachusetts.
Current conviction record screening practices for employment, which have skyrocketed in recent decades, lead to many applicants being rejected in the first round of the hiring process even if they have only committed a misdemeanor unrelated to the job. This leads to increased recidivism as people with conviction records who cannot find jobs are far more likely to commit additional crimes.
"By making it incredibly difficult for people with conviction records to find jobs, current employment practices lead to hopelessness and result in more poverty and crime," said Rep. Clarke. "This legislation is aimed at empowering people to take responsibility for their communities and their lives."