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It can be difficult for many to find a job in the current economy, but for individuals who have a prior conviction, that task can become nearly impossible. Those who have paid their debt to society with prison or jail time still face a deep social stigma on the outside. Oftentimes, the only thing standing in between these individuals and a job is a small box on the application that asks, “have you ever been convicted of a crime?” The workplace advocacy group 9to5 is trying to change that through their “Ban the Box” campaign. The campaign focuses on giving men and women from all walks of life a better chance at a fulfilling life.

looking for a job can be rough if you have a criminal record

Photo by Ian Lamont

Getting out of prison is just the beginning

Marilyn Winn of Atlanta, Georgia has a familiar story. After a difficult childhood in which her grandmother taught her to steal at a young age, Marilyn went to prison in Georgia for theft when she was just 18. When she was released, she discovered the only way an employer would give her a second look was if she lied on her job application. She eventually got a job with the Atlanta Housing Authority, but was fired after they discovered that she had concealed her time in prison.

“Ban the Box”

Now, Marilyn works as an organizer for 9to5. And she’s done great work. Her efforts in Georgia to “Ban the Box” that asks job applicants about their criminal history have been successful in Fulton County and the city of Atlanta. Winn also points out that it’s important to stress the distinction between hiding a criminal record and providing an opportunity for job candidates to get their foot in the door. “It’s not to hide the background,” Winn says. “It’s to enhance the chance for a job interview.” Employers will still run background checks, but applicants won’t be required to disclose prior convictions up-front. This way individuals with a criminal record can have a chance to provide an explanation in their own words during the interview process rather than being discarded from the get-go.

So far, through the efforts of groups like 9to5, ten states and over 50 local governments have dropped the “box,” with legislation on the table in many other jurisdictions. For many, these laws can provide a real chance for integration into society.

If you have been turned away from a job, or many jobs, due to your criminal record, call everyone’s favorite criminal defense attorney in Las Vegas at (702) 868-8866. Let’s work through this together.

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