AIKEN, S.C. (WJBF) — Momentum is growing to “Ban the box.” It’s a movement that would ban companies from asking about a job candidate’s criminal history upfront. It’s something advocates argue keeps ex-felons from landing jobs.
“When they see that, they automatically start judging when you check that box,” Kent Osbourne told NewsChannel 6’s Shawn Cabbagestalk.
Osbourne is now an entrepreneur moving products across the United States after finally owning his own trucking business. But the road to entrepreneurship wasn’t an easy one after being in prison. Once released, he worked to build a new skill set but no one wanted to hire him.”But little did I know that it was going to be so hard trying to find a job with a felony. This was kind of when I started experiencing how hard it was trying to find a job with a felony,” he recalled.
Now there’s an effort underway to help people like Osbourne get a second chance. Some want to implement a law banning employers from asking applicants if they are convicted criminals early in the application process. “Folks who check yes for the box have a 50% less of a chance of being called back for an interview if they check yes on the box,” Aiken County NAACP President Eugene White said.
The initiative could not only help those with a record but improve the crime in the area.”There’s a very strong tie between economics and crime, because a classic economical study says that inequality is what causes crime,” White added.
This is not a way for potential employees to get around revealing their criminal records. Background checks will still be conducted on those offered a job. “So it protects the employee. Then it gives that it gives him an opportunity to apply for a position and putting their best foot forward. But it also protects the employer while keeping the control in place where they can, where they are still able to ask about criminal history and assure that there are hiring the best applicants for the position,” he said.
We’ve learned dozens of states have passed laws to consider a job candidate’s qualifications first—without the stigma of a conviction or arrest record.”Something that affects all of us and really allows us to get to work, allows people to take care of their families and it helps it can move forward,” White added.
A petition is also available for supporters on change.org. “At every protest we have folks out there doing voter registration and also circulating the petition to ban the box. We are letting the folks and the decision makers know that this is something that the community supports talking about community effort,” White shared.
On Monday, July 13, the Aiken City Council voted unanimously to Ban the Box on City of Aiken employment applications.