The criminal records “Ban the box” ground swell of opinion makes more strides towards change. In Austin, Texas the seeds of a “Fair Chance Ordinance” initiative have been sown by a council member. The move seeks to bring to a close the criminal records check box mentality depriving so many of the opportunity to gainful employment. The council member (Greg Casar) further endorsed the policy in that potential applicants deserve a fair shot. The move is gathering momentum across the States creating opportunities for applicants with perhaps a checkered past or minor criminal records that are in no way relevant to the role applied for.

Employers can still carry out a criminal background check as and when they see fit and as required. If there are criminal records evident the employer still has the option to reject the application. However the initiative is seen by some as a double edged sword in that it may well be to the detriment of business growth within the city. If an employer refused to comply would this also leave them prone to civil liability.

The council will be seeking public comment towards the end of August (SpeakUpAustin). Those comments will then be collated and submitted to the council in September. Civil rights groups (not only in America) are pushing the “Ban the box” movement. The efforts are essentially job applications before and over and above criminal records.

Corporates who have already banned the box are Home Depot, The Target Corporation and WalMart. An article by NewsOK in July 2015 confirmed over 600,000 Americans leave prison each year. Between one in three (70>100 million) Americans have criminal records. This figure confirmed by The National Employment Law Center. The Poverty to Prosperity program also confirmed that 9 out of 10 employers along with 4 out of 5 landlords carry out a criminal background check.

Eleven cities have ran with “ban the box”, with eighteen states banning the box for governmental jobs. NewsOK also reported that men between the ages of 24>54 with criminal records make up one third of those out of work. This statistic confirmed a reduction of GDP in 2008 to $65 million (down $57 million).

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