Helping ex-cons return to work

The Obama administration announced plans Friday to ban federal agencies from asking job seekers about their criminal records when they first apply for work. This change would eliminate the checkbox that appears on applications requiring people to fess up to criminal convictions.

Most of us don't give that box a second thought. But for about 70 million people with an arrest or conviction record, it can mean the difference between meaningful work and the unemployment line.

The idea is not to eliminate background checks from the application process entirely. Instead, "ban the box" delays those checks so applicants aren't immediately disqualified from consideration for a job. In most cases, applications for positions of trust, such as those in intelligence, national security and law enforcement, or those where employees may encounter vulnerable populations, such as children, are exempted.

"Ban the box" has already been enacted by several federal agencies. Friday's action appears to create a universal policy throughout the administration. Meanwhile 18 states and 100 localities have already take this step.

This change acknowledges that ex-offenders face difficulties after they've done their time. One study found that having a criminal record reduces by half the chances that a job seeking will get a call back. Many ex-cons are poorly educated, or have drug or mental health problems. Without the prospect of a real job, many return to crime.

 Read more at Washington Examiner

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