If my research is right, I wrote my first ban-the-box article back on December 18, 2016. I did not invent the idea of banning the box, but the article is available.

Banning the box has to do with job applications, that is, there is a question on the application that asks, “Have you ever been convicted of a crime?” and there is a box to check if the answer is yes. Those who were convicted must check the box, otherwise they would be lying on the application – another reason they would be denied the job. So, either way, yes or no, a justice-involved individual cannot win, and they must turn to crime to support themselves and their families. Hence the laws that deny employers the opportunity to put the question on their employment applications are necessary. I was fortunate that I was not convicted of a crime. It was because of my illness.

A friend of mine from the Baltimore area sent me a May 29, 2019 article from The Washington Post by Justin Wm Moyer titled “DC employers pay nearly $500,000 under ‘ban the box’ law since 2014.” Our legislators are getting serious. They are beginning to learn that if a justice-involved person cannot get a job they must – again – turn to crime to support themselves and their families. From the article:

“The District government has filed more than 1,100 administrative charges against employers who continue to ask about criminal histories on job applications despite a 2014 law that banned the practice. Those charges have netted the city more than $500,000 in fines for failing to ‘ban the box,’ according to a report by the DC Office of Human Rights… More than 90 percent of the administrative charges against employers were related to criminal background questions that appeared on job applications, the report said, while less than 5 percent involved questions an employer asked during an interview.”

Our city officials are beginning to see the implications:

“Brian Ferguson, director of the city’s Office of Returning Citizen Affairs, said questions about criminal records were ‘ubiquitous’ on job applications before the law, often stopping those returning from prison from ‘getting a foot in the door’ with possible employers.

“Today, it’s a much different landscape, much more favorable to returning citizens… They can show their value.”