Have you ever had to check a tiny box on a job application form, disclosing any criminal record or history? Have you ever wondered if and how that tiny box impacts your prospect of finding work?
Every year, hundreds of thousands of individuals are released from incarceration, ready for a fresh start. However, disclosing one's criminal history on a job application often ends with the candidate screened out of the hiring process, regardless of qualifications. As a result, many fall into the cycle of poverty, unemployment and lack of opportunity.
Chicago-based worker center, the Center for Racial Justice (CRJ), is pushing to eliminate "the box" from appearing on job application in the states of Illinois. CRJ's efforts are part of national campaign, "Ban the Box," to remove the criminal history check box that often results in employers discriminating against persons with criminal backgrounds.
By "banning the box," formerly incarcerated individuals will not be forced to disclose their history on application forms. These candidates will be placed on equal footing as other applicants. Without "the box," their application is more likely to be judged based on professional merit rather than personal history.
CRJ, a new addition to the IWJ worker center network, committed to helping unemployed and formerly incarcerated black workers get good jobs. They understand devastating effects "the box" on the employment of African-American. CRJ members and volunteers held a phone bank on Oct. 15 to raise up support for a petition asking Illinois legislators to introduce a bill that would remove the criminal convictions question from all job applications.
CRJ recently celeberated a victory in the "Ban the Box" campaign when Gov. Quinn agreed to issue an administrative order to "ban the box," from application forms for state jobs. CRJ is pushing to see similiar moves in the private sector and all public jobs.
To learn more about the "Ban the Box" campaign and to get involved, email DeAngelo Bester, the Executive Director of CRJ
CRJ hosted a special screening of "Slavery by Another Name," a documentary on mass incarceration and its impact on black communities this month.