Ban the Box
Ban the Box refers to a requirement to remove the “box” from employment applications that ask an applicant whether he/she has ever been convicted of a crime. One of the goals of Ban the Box is to have people support changes in policies that discriminate against the formerly incarcerated. This is an important goal, because if these former felons cannot obtain a job, their chances of recidivism dramatically increase (The Ban the Box Capaign, 2003, p.1). Another goal of Ban the Box is to receive the support of all employers to hire previously incarcerated individuals, as well as support the elimination of any restrictions on the involvement that may reject the formerly incarcerated population. The system Wisconsin currently has seems to be failing this particular population.
Currently, the Ban the Box movement has been implemented in 13 states and 66 cities nationwide (Maurer, 2014, p.1). Those who have adopted this movement are moving forward with more than just modifying or removing criminal record questions. They are actually revising the criminal record screening program. As a result of this, any questions on an applicant’s criminal record are to be examined after his/her interview. By this, the applicants receive a fair chance of displaying their skills, as well as their ability relating to the applied occupation.
Wisconsin has been affected by this movement in various ways. For example, Milwaukee and Dane County removed the criminal history box from employment and job applications. On August 27th, 2013 the state of Wisconsin tried to address the Ban the Box issue by creating the Assembly Bill 342 (Wisconsin State Legislature, 2013, p.1). This Bill’s purpose was to make sure employers were not prohibiting the consideration of a conviction record of and applicant (Wisconsin State Legislature, 2013, p.1). Unfortunately, the Assembly Bill 342 did not pass and individuals seeking employment with an arrest or conviction on their record continue to face barriers.
Although Wisconsin does not currently have a BantheBox policy at the state level, it does regulate the questions an employer can ask on a job application. The Wisconsin Fair Employment Law prohibits discrimination on employment based on an arrest or conviction record. Although these are nice steps towards equality, Wisconsin still has a long way to go.
As social workers, our interest on this issue is great. Everyone deserves the equal opportunity for a job interview and a second chance. By banning the box, it will not only benefit those convicted of a crime, but will also benefit the economy. Nearly one third of the adult population in America has a criminal record. With so many potential workers being denied an interview based on their past actions it is draining our economy. If convicted applicants are unable to obtain a job, they will be continue to be forced to rely on social welfare programs, which increases the stress on the limited resources available.
In summary, the state of Wisconsin does not support Ban the Box, which makes it harder for felons to be looked at for a job. If the state were to pass a policy where felons no longer had to check a box indicating that they are felons, there would be more opportunities for them to move on to a better life. Another benefit of Ban the Box is that there would be more potential employees to help fill jobs. It also would be more beneficial for the job market, as well as for felons to no longer have a requirement to check the box. It is our goal to raise awareness of how beneficial it would be to pass a policy stating that felons no longer have to check the box. Not only is it our goal to raise awareness, but it is also our goal to eventually get this policy passed, so felons have the opportunity they deserve to a better life.
“BantheBox” Laws Impact Employer Use of Criminal Records Information. (2016). In Boardman & Clark. Retrieved April 10, 2016 from http://www.boardmanclark.com/publications/bantheboxlawsimpactemployeruseofc riminalrecordsinformation/
Duane, G. (2015). Banning “the Box” Will Benefit Both the Justice System and the Economy (2015). In Brennan Center For Justice. Retrieved April 10, 2016 from https://www.brennancenter.org/blog/banningboxwillbenefitbothjusticesystemandec
Ensuring People with Convictions Have a Fair Chance to Work. (n.d). Retrieved April 19, 2016, from https://www.shrm.or/hrdisciplines/safetysecurity/articles/pages/ban-the-box movement-viral.aspx
Maurer, R. (2014). BantheBox Movement Goes Viral. (2014). In Society For Human Resource Management. Retrieved April 10, 2016 from https://www.shrm.org/hrdisciplines/safetysecurity/articles/pages/bantheboxmovement viral.aspx
The Ban the Box Campaign. (2015). In Ban the Box Campaign. Retrieved April 10, 2016 from http://bantheboxcampaign.org/?p=23#.VwV1N8d2dFI
Wisconsin’s Fair Chance Law. (2016). In Verify Protect. Retrieved April 10, 2016 from http://www.verifyprotect.com/banthebox/wisconsin/
Wisconsin State Legislature. (2013). In Wisconsin Legislation. Retrieved April 10, 2016 from https://docs.legis.wisconsin.gov/2013/related/proposals/ab342