U.S. Senator Tammy Baldwin applauded the recent announcement from the Obama Administration that aims to reduce potential discrimination against formerly incarcerated people in the hiring process for federal government employees. The announcement follows several states and cities that have been implementing “Ban the Box” polices to help people with records overcome the barrier to employment of having to “check the box” about a past felony conviction on a job application.
In May, Senator Baldwin joined Senators Cory Booker and Sherrod Brown in leading a bipartisan group of 25 of their Senate colleagues in urging President Obama to expand job opportunities and reduce recidivism by taking executive action and requiring federal agencies to “Ban the Box” on job applications.
“Those who have made mistakes and paid their debt to society deserve a chance to move forward and live a productive life,” said Senator Baldwin. “Yet, far too often, the more than 70 million Americans who have criminal histories face unreasonable employment barriers that stand in the way of contributing to our workforce. I applaud today’s announcement from the Administration that will help ensure that every American has a fair chance to secure a steady job, support their family and strengthen our communities.”
Senator Baldwin, a member of the Senate Homeland Security & Governmental Affairs Committee (HSGAC), has also joined bipartisan efforts to implement similar policy through the Fair Chance Act, which cleared the committee last month. The Fair Chance Act would give formerly incarcerated people a fairer chance at securing employment by prohibiting federal agencies from asking about the criminal history of a job applicant until an applicant receives a conditional offer of employment.
Over 70 million Americans who have criminal histories are faced with the daunting task of securing employment. They face improbable odds in obtaining a job as a result of an arrest or criminal conviction. Studies show that a criminal record reduces the likelihood of a callback or job offer by nearly 50 percent for men in general. African-American men with criminal records have been 60 percent less likely to receive a callback or job offer than those without records. For individuals trying to turn the page on a difficult chapter in their lives, a criminal conviction poses a substantial barrier to employment.