The "box" asking about a criminal conviction is one most of us mindlessly check on employment applications. But for many otherwise employable adults, it's the biggest barrier to moving forward with productive lives.Now, HB 548 on to the Senate. This would be a really good and important change, I hope it makes it through..
Rep. Eric Johnson, D-Dallas, introduced a bill this legislative session that would prevent state agencies from asking about an applicant's criminal background until the interview stage. The proposal is in line with a national trend that has strong bipartisan support.
Center for American Progress, a progressive think tank, recently teamed up with the conservative Koch Brothers to form an advocacy group for criminal justice reform. One of the coalition's goals is to lessen the barriers to employment for ex-offenders. The Koch brothers have banned the box at Koch Industries, the multinational conglomerate.
Policies promoting rehabilitation for ex-offenders require a strong dose of common sense. No one is proposing, for instance, that a former drug dealer be allowed to work for the Texas Pharmacy Board. Or, for that matter, that any state agency be required to hire any ex-offender. A "ban-the-box" law just gives the potential employee an opportunity to present himself to a potential employer and for the potential employer to see the whole person. When that box is checked, applicants often are immediately rejected for a prior offense that may have no bearing on the job or is so old that it's not relevant.
Thursday, May 14, 2015
House passes 'ban the box' bill for state agencies
A Houston Chronicle editorial (May 11) rightly praised "ban the box" legislation for state agencies which the Texas House passed today. The article opened: