WASHINGTON — U.S. Sen. Ron Johnson, R-Wis., has teamed up with Sen. Cory Booker, D-N.J., to “Ban the Box,” a nationwide initiative that aims to remove barriers that make it more difficult for people with criminal records from getting jobs.
The bill would make it illegal for the federal government or its contractors to ask applicants about their criminal history on an application. There are exceptions, such as applying for jobs in security or law enforcement. Federal employers would be able to ask about criminal histories once the “conditional offer” stage is reached, if the bill passes.
Last week, the Fair Chance Act received a boost when the House approved it as an amendment to the 2020 National Defense Authorization Act, which was fully approved on a party-line vote in the Democrat-controlled House on July 12.
For Johnson, he said his next goal is to get the Fair Chance Act passed in the Senate.
“I’m pleased to see support for the Fair Chance Act is growing in Congress,” Johnson said in a statement. “I’ll continue to work with my colleagues to pass this legislation that will help people leaving prison get back to work and turn their lives around.”
“Today’s passage marks an important step toward giving formally incarcerated Americans the dignity and justice they deserve to contribute to our nation,” Booker, who also is a Democratic candidate for president, stated. “This legislation will remove the steep hurdles that deny individuals who have paid their debt to society from finding a job and allow them to have the dignity of work.”
U.S. Sen. Tammy Baldwin, D-Wis., is one of the bill’s original co-sponsors.
“People who have made mistakes and paid their debt to society deserve a chance to move forward and live a productive life,” Baldwin said in a statement in February. “But far too often, millions of Americans with criminal histories who have served their time face unfair barriers that stand in the way of pursuing a job.”
When someone gets out of prison or jail, they are up against the world. They are likely behind on bills after time behind bars, unable to make…
Banning the box
Racine “Banned the Box” on city jobs in 2017. And the State of Wisconsin passed a similar law in 2016 that said the state Department of Administration could not ask applicants about their conviction history on initial applications, although an applicant’s record could be considered “after the person has been certified as an eligible applicant.”
More than 30 other states have similar bans, including some that apply to applications for private employers as well as the government, including in Illinois and Minnesota.