When you have filled out a job application in the past in New York City, you probably have had to check a box saying whether or not you have been convicted of a felony. Typically, if you answer “yes,” you are given a chance to explain the situation in a few lines below the checkbox. However, most applicants know that checking that box in the affirmative means the chances of getting that job have dropped significantly. This is not a secret, which is why the Ban the Box campaign was created.
According to Ban the Box campaign, Ban the Box is a civil rights movement. It was started by All of Us or None in 2004. Helping felons get back into the community and find a way to be productive members of society is an important thing to do, but when employers automatically deny employment to someone because he or she has been convicted of a felony, it undermines this. It is the goal of the movement to get employers to stop asking this question on applications and focus instead on the qualifications and skills of applicants.
The first work of the campaign was to get government agencies on board to stop discriminating in their hiring practices. Many states went on to enact laws that stop employers from focusing on criminal history as the sole determining factor in considering an applicant for a position. Some states have even expanded this idea beyond employment and into other areas, such as housing.