ColorOfChange, All of Us or None, Legal Services for Prisoners with Children, V.O.T.E., NELP, ACLU, The Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights, PICO, Southern Coalition for Social Justice, Formerly Incarcerated, Convicted People & Families Moveme

John Legend Sends Video in Support

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WASHINGTON, DC -  Today, a coalition delivered over 130,000 signatures to the White House to call on President Obama to remove the conviction history check-box from federal agency/contractor job applications - in an effort better known as “Ban the Box.”

Despite calls throughout his presidency, President Obama has yet to take executive action against the employment discrimination that formerly incarcerated individuals face after they have served their time. Federal agencies and the companies they contract with can still require job applicants with a criminal record to check a box indicating that they have been convicted.

There are currently an estimated 70 million U.S. adults with arrests or convictions that often make it much harder to find work. The “box” on a job application hurts both the employer and job seeker.  Research affirms that a criminal record reduces the likelihood of a job callback or offer by nearly 50 percent. 

Currently there are 44,000 laws on the books that prevent people from re-integrating into their communities after serving time, which is key to reducing recidivism. Employment offers a pathway out of poverty for many low-income families living on severely limited income.

Across the country, research shows that Black and Latino populations are significantly more likely to be charged and convicted of low-level offenses than their White counterparts. Further research shows that a employers were more likely to call a White person with a criminal record than a Black person without a criminal record. And while, as noted above, having a criminal background hurts all applicants’ chances of getting an interview, Black and Latino people with non-violent offenses face particularly devastating employment prospects.

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Rashad Robinson, Executive Director of said, Even before they have a chance to apply for jobs, people returning to their communities from jail or prison face a range of legalized discrimination that keeps them cut off from mainstream society and the economy.  Factor in the employment discrimination that Black and Brown job seekers face even without a criminal record, these hiring policies create an insurmountable obstacle for the millions of people out there who are ready to work.

John Legend, #FREEAMERICA, singer and songwriter said, "Since I began the #FREEAMERICA campaign, I’ve heard firsthand from people in prisons, jails and juvenile detention centers about the barriers they face when they return to society.  We can help end the cycle of crime and incarceration by banning the box."

Dorsey Nunn, Co-Founder of All of Us or None said, “This effort is the first effort to organically come out of the formerly incarcerated community where we are asking for something specifically from our government. As a proud member of All of Us or None, I’m one of the people who initiated the campaign to Ban the Box. Today over 100 million people now live in a jurisdiction that has banned the box, but this should be true for every person in this country who has a criminal record and wants the chance to be employed and support their family.”

“I applaud all 19 states and over 100 municipalities for taking this step toward ending employment discrimination against people with prior convictions,” said Marilynn Winn of Women on the Rise, a grassroots organization of formerly incarcerated women. “I have personally experienced the ‘box’ resulting in my automatic disqualification many times.  I may have all the skills and qualifications, but if I’m asked to check that box, I can’t even get an interview.  Everybody deserves the chance to work and put food on their table and a roof over their head and support their children. It’s a ‘Human Right.’”  

Norris Henderson, Voice of the Ex-offender (V.O.T.E.) and the Formerly Incarcerated and Convicted Peoples Family Movement (FICPFM) said, “Though we appreciate legislation (S. 2021) offered by Senator Booker and Congressman Cummings, that legislation won't go into effect for two years, and even then doesn't offer full protections for those with records--we need jobs now! Folks have asked us to be patient, stand down and WAIT, I am now reminded of the words of Dr. King ‘that this wait always means never.’”

“If President Obama is serious about criminal justice reform and economic opportunity, one thing he can do directly and immediately is ban the box on federal job applications,” said Matt Nelson, Managing Director of "Requiring job applicants to check a box disclosing their prior conviction history deepens the impact of pervasive, systemic inequality and discrimination in the criminal justice system, and in society overall.”