Allentown Mayor Ed Pawlowski is asking City Council to approve a resolution to “Ban the Box.” At a morning news conference in City Council Chambers, Pawlowski made good on a promise made during his 2015 State of the City message to propose the resolution which will be introduced by City Council tonight.
“Ban the Box” legislation allows the city to judge applicants on their qualifications first without the stigma of a criminal record.
According to www.NELP.org, conservative estimates indicate that roughly 70 million adults (1 in 4) in the United States have some sort of a criminal record, and nearly 700,000 people return to their communities from incarceration each year.
“Ban the Box” is the phrase coined for fair chance policies which remove the box on an employment application asking about the criminal history information of an applicant. By removing the conviction history question from the application, employers are attempting to judge applicants on their merits.
“If government doesn’t take the lead in this area, how can we expect the private sector to step-up,” said Pawlowski. “Instead of focusing on an applicant’s criminal history, city government will provide them with a chance to compete and hopefully secure a job in the public sector.”
Banning the box from the application would not prohibit the city from running a background check, nor does it prevent employers from considering an applicant’s criminal history when making an employment decision.
Research indicates that once an employer has the chance to examine the qualifications of an applicant without the bias which can be associated with knowledge of a conviction history, the employer would be more willing to hire the applicant. Employment has been found to be a significant factor in reducing re-offending.
Allowing people to work increases their tax contributions, boosts sales tax, and saves money by keeping people out of the criminal justice system.
“Ban the Box” legislation has been adopted in 13 states and more than 70 jurisdictions and is an Equal Employment Opportunity Commission best practice.