Discrimination against formally incarcerated, convicted felons has gone on for way too long. Convicted felons are stripped of many civil rights, housing options are often limited and employment becomes less of an opportunity for economic stability. The National Employment Law Project reports that over 65 million Americans, 25% of the US population, have a criminal record that could be uncovered by a simple background check.
The federal government has taken steps to protect the employment rights of formerly incarcerated, convicted felons. In 2012, the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) produced an Enforcement Guidance to address the conviction discrimination in employment. “Employers considering the use of criminal records in their selection and retention processes; individuals who suspect that they have been denied jobs or promotions, or have been discharged because of their criminal records; and EEOC staff who are investigating discrimination charges involving the use of criminal records in employment decisions” can use this guide to aid them in preventing employment discrimination, but there is more work to be done.
This additional work has come from organizations such as Legal Services for Prisoners with Children (LSPC). LSPC spearheaded a grassroots movement known as “Ban the Box“. This movement is designed to give convicted felons an opportunity for gainful employment without the threat of conviction discrimination. The Ban the Box campaign calls for removing the question and check box, “Have you been convicted by a court?” from applications for employment, housing, public benefits, insurance, loans and other services. As of May 2013, 50 cities or counties, and 9 states have removed questions about conviction history from their public employment applications.
If you are your organization is interested in getting involved, check out this link.
Check out the video below to learn more about the movement.