Jobless with a Conviction? “Ban the Box” Might Save You

One in four adults in the U.S. have a criminal record. But after serving their time, these folks are punished again as soon as they fill out a job application form. A grassroots movement called “Ban the Box” wants to change this and give a large chunk of Americans a second chance.

“Ban the Box” is a grassroots campaign to remove from job applications the question, “Have you ever been convicted of a crime?” A total of 10 states as well as 50 cities have adopted policies that prohibit criminal conviction questions on employment forms. This is an effort to give formerly incarcerated people a chance to be judged by their work skills instead of their past.

One of the biggest retail stores, Target, announced earlier this year that they would remove the question from all of their applications, which marked a victory for the campaign.

“Ban the Box” policies vary from state to state and city to city.

In Connecticut last month, Kennard Ray, the newly appointed deputy chief of staff to Hartford Mayor Pedro Segarra, withdrew his nomination after it was revealed he had multiple felony convictions. Ironically, Hartford is one of the 50 cities that has adopted a “ban the box” policy–but the public smear campaign pushed Ray to take his hat out of the ring.

However, Ray has received an outpouring of support from the community, including from Mayor Segarra who, told the Hartford Courant, “Mr. Ray is a qualified individual with solid references from former supervisors and community leaders.” Still, Segarra added, “However, public servants, especially those in leadership positions, must be held to a higher standard.”

Ray joined DNA yesterday to discuss the “Ban the Box” campaign and the community’s response to his decision. Watch the video above to hear more about his struggles and how he’s turned his past around to make a positive community impact.