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Delaware Businesses Should Consider 'Banning the Box'

Koch Industries General Counsel authored the following op-ed for the September 19th edition of Delaware News Journal.

September 19, 2016

min read

For the many Delaware residents concerned that outdated criminal justice laws are endangering public safety and ruining people’s lives, it’s heartening that Congress has indicated that it hopes to take up the issue during the coming weeks. But it remains unclear whether any legislation will make it to the president’s desk.

That’s why the roughly 18,000 employers that call Delaware home should consider voluntarily taking action themselves.

Businesses have a powerful role to play in giving individuals with criminal records a second chance. The easiest step they can take is to “ban the box.”

Right now, most employers require job seekers to check a box on an application if they have any criminal record. Too often, this can function as an automatic “application denied” for individuals who have any blemish in their past.

Nationwide, some 650,000 incarcerated individuals rejoin society every year, and they desperately need jobs to help them transition back into society and to provide for themselves and their families. But the criminal record box often shuts them out of the job market before they can get a foot in the door. A 2009 study by Harvard and Princeton researchers showed individuals who checked the box reduced their chances of a callback by 50 percent, with blacks hurt twice as much as whites.

Sure enough, unemployment among those with a criminal record remains staggeringly high: A third of men without jobs between the ages of 25 and 54 have a criminal record. And the lack of employment is one of the key reasons why over two-thirds are re-arrested, over half are re-convicted, and two out of five are re-incarcerated within three years of release.

See article here.