NEWARK FAIR CHANCE ORDINANCE
On September 19, 2012, the Newark City Council passed a “Ban the Box” ordinance written by NJISJ and sponsored by former Councilman Ronald C. Rice. At the time of its passage, the Newark Ordinance was the most comprehensive and cutting edge municipal ordinance in the nation.
NEW JERSEY FAIR CHANCE STATUTE: THE OPPORTUNITY TO COMPETE ACT
On February 21, 2013, Sponsors Senator Sandra B. Cunningham and Assemblywoman Bonnie Watson Coleman (in addition to others) introduced “The Opportunity to Compete Act,” a statewide Fair Hiring bill also written by NJISJ. Following extensive negotiations with the Legislature, business community and Christie Administration, a final version of the bill was passed by the legislature on June 26, 2014, and signed into law by Governor Christie on August 11, 2014.
The enactment of this law was the culmination of a long, hard-fought campaign that mobilized a statewide coalition of legislators, mayors, clergy, and advocates. Delaying the inquiry into applicants’ criminal backgrounds until after the first interview will afford applicants a foot in the door to meet potential employers face to face, presenting their skills and qualifications without the mark of past mistakes clouding the employer’s first impression. This will change the common practice of screening out anyone with a criminal record, no matter how old or minor, and allow employers to find qualified employees whom they may otherwise have overlooked. While the final bill did not include all of the provisions for which we advocated, it is one of only six such statutes in the country applicable to both the public and private sectors and its enactment is an important step in the direction of expanding opportunities for formerly incarcerated individuals. The Institute will continue the fight toward the next round of reforms.