Oregon Legislature Votes to ‘Ban the Box’ on Job Applications
Friday, June 12, 2015
“As Oregonians, we believe that anyone who makes a mistake and learns from it deserves a second chance,” said Tom Chamberlain, President of Oregon AFL-CIO and member of Fair Chance For All. “This bill helps make it possible for thousands of people who have paid their debts to society to one day get a job and pull their lives and their families back together.”
For more than a year, the Fair Chance for All Coalition has been working hard to remove the question “Have you ever been convicted of a felony or a misdemeanor?” from job applications and provide basic protections from discrimination for people with records.
Moving On From Past Mistakes
“Finding a job is one of the biggest barriers for people with past convictions, even if they are qualified for the position,” said Rep. Carla C. Piluso, former Gresham Chief of Police. “In law enforcement, we know the single most effective deterrent against re-offending is employment. Past mistakes should not be a permanent barrier for people who want to earn an honest living and contribute positively to their community. This legislation is a step in the right direction."
More than 32,000 people in Oregon are currently incarcerated or on community supervision and face barriers to housing and jobs. Nearly 11 percent of incarcerated Oregonians are African American, despite the fact that African Americans make up only 2 percent of Oregon’s overall population.
“Even today, it’s disheartening to know that no matter how qualified I am for a job, I still face barriers because of a mistake I made more than ten years ago," said Emmanuel Price, an Oregonian with personal experience transitioning from incarceration to the community.
An Opportunity To Explain Past Mistakes
In Oregon, nearly 5,000 people are released from prison every year. Banning the box will give prospective employees an opportunity to meet with employers and explain who they are now, versus who they were when they committed the crime.
After struggling to find employment, Price founded Second Chances Are for Every One, an organization that works to reduce the rate of recidivism by providing support services to promote employment, empowerment, and community engagement for men in transition.
"All formerly incarcerated Oregonians deserve a fair chance at employment. And with today’s passage of Ban the Box, we will get one," said Price.
‘The box’ has already been removed from applications for City of Portland jobs in 2014 and Multnomah County jobs in 2006 and from the City of Eugene in 2007. Once signed into law, the bill will make Oregon the 18th state in the nation to “ban the box” including: California, Colorado, Connecticut, Delaware, Georgia, Hawaii, Illinois, Maryland, Massachusetts, Minnesota, Nebraska, New Jersey, New Mexico, Rhode Island, Vermont, and Virginia.
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