Debating the expansion of ‘ban the box’ to California’s private sector

Mar 17, 2017

California Amusement Park Holds Job Fair To Hire 2500 Employees

A job seeker fills out an application during a job fair at California’s Great America theme park on February 6, 2015 in Santa Clara, California. ; Credit: Justin Sullivan/Getty Images


California is considering whether to completely remove the box on job applications that asks prospective employees whether they’ve been convicted of a felony.

The so-called ‘ban the box’ movement has already been implemented in nine states and 15 cities, including Los Angeles and San Francisco, and the proposal from Sacramento Democratic Assemblyman Kevin McCarty would expand that statewide, requiring that employers make a conditional offer before inquiring about a prospective employee’s criminal record.

Supporters argue that more widespread ‘ban the box’ policies will reduce recidivism, because if it’s easier for an ex-con to get work after being released, there’s less of a chance that person will return to crime. Opponents say that there could be unintended consequences from expanded ‘ban the box’ policies, including but not limited to racial discrimination. They also argue it doesn’t do much to assuage employers’ concerns about hiring someone with a conviction on his or her record.


Dorsey Nunn, executive director of Legal Services for Prisoners with Children, an organization advocating for rights of incarcerated and formerly incarcerated; he’s also the co-founder of its ‘All of Us or None’ campaign, which advocates ‘ban the box’ policies and implementation

Benjamin Hansen, associate professor of economics at the University of Oregon

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