Job applicants nationwide are required to provide personal information like past employment, education, etc. The application may also include a question about prior arrests and convictions. That box regarding a person’s criminal record is an especially thorny issue for millions of Americans. Indeed, a “Ban the Box” movement is gaining momentum to create fair opportunity for workers with criminal records.

Changes in hiring law are taking place in cities, counties and at the state level. Oregon and Ohio have recently passed "Ban the Box" laws. The Ohio law, for instance, bars public employers from asking an applicant's criminal background on job applications.

The signing of the "Ban the Box" laws comes amid growing national concern that the job application check box about a person’s criminal history can deter offenders from seeking jobs and can cause employers to miss out on qualified workers.

Lowering the Reoffending Rate

When people with criminal records cannot secure gainful employment, they may face insurmountable challenges in complying with the terms of their release such as paying fines, securing employment and housing. Even minor offenders with excellent job qualifications can be disqualified without consideration and be re-incarcerated for noncompliance.
Statistics demonstrate that employment reduces the likelihood of repeat offenses, and reduces costs spent on prosecuting and jailing repeat offenders. This increases the benefit to society through taxes and productivity.

Economic Losses

More than 70 million adults, about 22 percent of the U.S. population, have made a mistake in judgment that has involved a criminal conviction, the National Employment Law Project says. The Center for Economic Aid and Policy Research estimates the economic loss to the U.S. Gross Domestic Product by not employing individuals with a criminal history ranges between $57 and $65 billion.

If you or a loved one is struggling with how to fill out a job application, it's important to know the status of the law in your jurisdiction. To learn more about this emerging legal issue or if you need legal help, contact a criminal defense attorney.