Ban the Box in Newark According to the National Employment Law Center (NELP), about 65 million Americans have a criminal record. The rapid expansion of online record searches has made it easier for employers to run background checks on potential employees, and more challenging for potential employees to get a job.
According to a 2010 survey by the Society for Human Resources Management, nearly 90 percent of employers surveyed, revealed that they conducted criminal background checks on job applicants. Ban the Box is a movement to get rid of questions on job applications that ask about criminal history.
Already more than 40 cities and counties have passed Ban the Box laws, and this year, Newark, New Jersey will implement the most sweeping Ban the Box law yet, which extends to public and private employers.Youth Radio spoke with Cornell William Brooks, President and CEO of the New Jersey Institute for Social Justice, who worked with city lawmakers to bring Ban the Box to Newark.
YOUTH RADIO: Can you tell me about Ban the box in Newark? What’s it all about and how does it work?
Cornell William Brooks: We have Americans, many of whom are young, who, when they are seeking work, are confronted on the employment app with a real serious and high barrier, it’s called a box. And this box asks the question, “have you ever been arrested or convicted of a crime?” That seems like a reasonable question on its face, except when you check that box you are literally consigning your employment application to file 13-- the trashcan.
YR: Why in Newark does the law extend to privately owned businesses?
Brooks: It extends to privately owned businesses because most people work in the private sector versus the public sector. In other words, is it enough for young people or an older person with a minor criminal record to have access to only public employment?