Ban the Box

What is the “Ban the Box” movement?

A hiring movement that seeks to promote legislation removing the “criminal record” check box from applications in order to minimize hiring discrimination against former convicts.

Example

Ban the Box legislation prevents further discrimination against those who have finished serving their time, have already paid their debt to society, and just want to move on with their lives.

Frequently Asked Questions

  • What is “the box” in “Ban the Box”?The “box” in “Ban the Box” laws refers to the check box in many job applications that identifies a candidate as having been convicted of a crime. Ban the Box laws seek to remove this check box (and other similar questions) from initial applications and limit at what stage of a hiring process private employers are allowed to ask applicants about criminal history.
  • Why did the “Ban the Box” movement start?Ban the Box initiatives began as a way of helping those with past criminal records reintegrate more successfully into law-abiding society in order to reduce recidivism and maintain civil rights. Proponents have argued that when criminal record check boxes are present at the first stage of an application process, otherwise well-qualified candidates are rejected without any consideration for the skills they possess or the benefits they could bring to the table.
  • Is “Ban the Box” good for businesses?Contrary to popular belief, Ban the Box laws generally do not prohibit private businesses from inquiring about criminal records; they merely limit how early in a hiring process these questions can be asked. Ban the Box laws are not only beneficial for job seekers: they also give businesses the opportunity to find qualified, talented candidates who have paid their debt to society and may have otherwise been dismissed outright due to a past criminal record.
  • What states have “Ban the Box” laws?As of 2023, 15 states (plus the District of Columbia and the U.S. Virgin Islands) have state-wide Ban the Box laws in-place restricting when a private employer can ask if a candidate has a prior criminal history:
    • California
    • Colorado
    • Connecticut
    • District of Columbia (Washington D.C.)
    • Hawaii
    • Illinois
    • Maine
    • Maryland
    • Massachusetts
    • Minnesota
    • New Jersey
    • New Mexico
    • Oregon
    • Rhode Island
    • Vermont
    • U.S. Virgin Islands
    • Washington

    Additionally, 6 states have cities or counties within them that have passed their own local Ban the Box laws, although no such state-wide laws exist:

    • Florida
    • Iowa
    • Missouri
    • New York
    • Pennsylvania

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