“Ban the Box” Already Practiced by Counties and Cities Throughout Ohio
WASHINGTON, D.C. – U.S. Sen. Sherrod Brown (D-OH) joined a bipartisan group of Senators today to introduce the Fair Chance Act, which would prohibit federal employers and contractors from asking a job applicant about his or her criminal history until the final stages of the interview process. The legislation was cosponsored by Sens. Cory Booker (D-NJ), Ron Johnson (R-WI), Tammy Baldwin (D-WI), Joni Ernst (R-IA), and Rob Portman (R-OH).
“If you’ve served your time, you shouldn’t continue to be punished for your past mistakes,” said Brown. “We need to give folks who’ve paid their debt to society a fair shot to earn a living and contribute to society, rather than ending up back behind bars.”
By “banning the box” in federal hiring and federal contractor hiring, the Fair Chance Act will help formerly incarcerated individuals re-integrate into society and gain meaningful employment, while still providing employers the opportunity to learn about criminal histories before hiring. The bill includes important common-sense exceptions for jobs related to law enforcement and national security, jobs dealing with classified information, and other jobs requiring criminal history information.
Twenty-five states, including Ohio, have taken this step already. Additionally, cities and counties across Ohio, including Cuyahoga County, Hamilton County, Summit County, Akron, Canton, Cincinnati, Cleveland, Dayton, Massillon, and Youngstown have already “banned the box” for government employment applications.
Specifically, the Fair Chance Act would:
- Ban the federal government from requesting criminal history information from applicants until they reach the conditional offer stage.
- Prohibit federal contractors from requesting criminal history information from candidates for positions within the scope of federal contracts until the conditional offer stage.
- Include important exceptions for positions related to law enforcement and national security duties, positions requiring access to classified information, and positions for which access to criminal history information is required by law.
- Require the Bureau of Justice Statistics, in coordination with the U.S. Census Bureau, to issue a report on the employment statistics of formerly incarcerated individuals.
Brown introduced the Fair Chance Act in September 2015 with Sens. Booker, Johnson, Baldwin, and Ernst. The bill passed unanimously out of the Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee in October 2015.
In May 2015, Brown and Booker led a group of 25 Senate colleagues in a letter urging President Obama to expand job opportunities and reduce recidivism by taking executive action and requiring federal contractors and federal agencies to “ban the box” on job applications.
Brown also cosponsored the Democracy Restoration Act of 2015, legislation that would restore voting rights to formerly incarcerated individuals in an effort to help Americans who have served their time successfully reenter their communities.