California Minority Counsel Program Diversity Matters

Individuals with criminal records unquestionably have a more difficult time obtaining gainful employment than individuals without criminal records. In fact, in a 2007 study, only approximately 40 percent of employers in four major metropolitan areas reported that they would “definitely” or “probably” hire applicants with a criminal history.1 In the same study, which also looked at the rates of “call backs” or job offers for applicants with different demographics, job offers for whites with criminal records fall by about half, and are reduced by that much or more for black ex-convicts.2

As a result, an increasing number of states, cities, and counties across the country are enacting what is widely known as “Ban the Box” laws, which are intended to provide a fair chance to job applicants with criminal histories so that their qualifications for a position are considered first and without the stigma of their criminal records. This has the effect of easing hiring barriers and creating a more level playing field in competing for jobs. Indeed, proponents and opponents of “Ban the Box” legislation have hotly debated whether prospective employers’ consideration of applicants’ criminal histories disparately impacts applicants in certain demographics.

While the scope of “Ban the Box” laws vary, at a bare minimum, these laws prohibit employers from inquiring about an applicant’s criminal history until after the initial interview (and sometimes delay this inquiry until even later in the hiring process).

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