Local experts, activists fear “ban the box” causing employment discrimination

Sep 30, 2017

Local activists and criminal justice experts say Columbia’s “ban the box” law is not doing minorities any favors.

During overlapping forums this past week that included discussions about improving the criminal justice system, questions emerged about whether Columbia’s “ban the box” ordinance is effective. The Show-Me Institute sponsored a forum called “Behind Bars in Missouri: Who is Paying the Price.” The other forum, sponsored by the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People, aimed to brainstorm ideas to address inequities in Columbia.

“Ban the box” laws forbid employers from asking questions about a job applicant’s criminal record on an application and pushes back any investigation into that history until late in the hiring process. The past five years, dozens of states and cities adopted the law in the hopes of creating additional employment opportunities for ex-offenders. The hope is that jobs will reduce recidivism rates and help those with a criminal history become productive members of society.