'Ban the Box' bill introduced to legislature

The bill would eliminate the box that asks for someone's criminal history on a job application. It only applies to potential state employees, not private companies.

CHARLOTTE -- There is a new legislative effort at the state Capitol; the "Ban the Box" bill.

The bill would eliminate the box that asks for someone's criminal history on a job application. It only applies to potential state employees, not private companies.

Criminal defense attorney, Melissa Owens, says concerns about old criminal histories are one of the most common she gets.

“They don't realize the impact of a criminal conviction and how it can haunt you the rest of your life,” says Owens.

This new bill could make it haunt some people a little less.

“I think it is an extremely important bill,” says Owens.

Supporters of the bill say the box negatively impacts some groups of people more than others.

“If you are wealthy, if you are privileged, if you have had many wonderful opportunities in life, there's a much greater likelihood that you're going to have a better outcome in your case,” says Owens.

Owens says those on the other side of the spectrum can face joblessness and homelessness, and sometimes even return to a criminal activity.

“Having boxes that immediately disqualify people from employment stands in the way of reintegrating someone whose been convicted back into society,” says Owens.

Owens believes the bill gives those people another chance to prove they can be a functioning member of society.

The new legislation would only affect the initial application process. Once an offer is made, the employer would be allowed to ask about someone’s criminal history.
 

Copyright 2017 WCNC


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