First in a series of upcoming reports on “Ban the Box” – the civil rights campaign to remove barriers to employment, housing, education, & voting for formerly incarcerated people.
From the Introduction by Linda Evans:
“Ban the Box is a movement to end the discrimination faced by millions of people in the United States, returning to their communities from prison or jail and trying to put their lives back together. It is a campaign to win full restoration of people’s human and civil rights.
Ban the Box got its name from that box that appears on most employment forms, as well as applications for housing, college, public benefits, and the right to serve on a jury – the box that reads: “Have you ever been convicted of a felony?” While the wording may change slightly from application to application, the result is the same: it puts up a barrier for people who want to work, educate themselves, provide for their families, and lead healthy, productive lives.
For years, the prejudice against people with conviction histories has grown and flourished until now most employers and housing providers, most universities and colleges, even voting registrars ask that question. Formerly-incarcerated and convicted people know that the conviction history question on applications poses an almost insurmountable obstacle. Banning the Box – eliminating that question – is crucial for our communities and our families.
Ban the Box is a campaign to end structural discrimination — discrimination directed against everyone who has a past conviction, without consideration for individual circumstances.
Ban the Box is a powerful tool in leveling the playing field, assuring that people get a second chance to put their lives together, and ending a blanket discrimination that shuts millions out of jobs, shelter, education, and participation in the democratic process. It’s a key step in acknowledging the humanity of all people, regardless of past behavior or mistakes.”