Push to ban crime box on job applications expands

San Francisco Supervisor Jane Kim wants to make this question virtually obsolete on job applications in San Francisco: Have you been convicted of a crime? Kim is proposing to expand the city’s existing ban by having it include most private employers, publicly funded housing providers and city contractors.

Ten states and more than 50 cities have adopted some version of “ban the box,” and a growing number of private employers are also jumping on board – earlier this year, Target announced it would strip the question from its applications. The federal government recommends that step as a best practice for all employers.

In a nation where an estimated 65 million people have a criminal history – 7 million in California alone – supporters see the proposal, dubbed the Fair Chance ordinance, as a win for not only former offenders but also society at large. Full Article

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This part of the ban the box article kind of takes the teeth out of this otherwise just movement.

“It now will only apply to those with 20 or more employees, it will allow businesses to conduct background checks after a live interview instead of after a conditional offer of employment, and it does not allow applicants to sue”.

Since people on the registry are still hated and reviled, it will be interesting to hear the experiences of registrants seeking employment. The “box” has effectively kept me in what most people would consider to be impoverishment for over ten years. I just want to work and have a life.


I agree with you completely, and dispite what the idiots think about keeping us down, it is not in society’s benefit to keep our families and us poor. I pay taxes and therefore am not a burden to society. As it should be. I would like to share with you or anyone else, how to make money despite the situation I am in. It looks like we only have ourselves to rely on to make life more secure. The bar is set extra high for us, but demonized groups in the past (Jews during the middle ages, for example) found ways to help each other make livings dispute the restrictions. Now it is up to us.

I paroled at the end of 2009 from a 10-year sentence. While still on parole, Goodwill hired me without asking about or checking my criminal history. Over the last two years, I took four civil service exams for positions in various departments of the City of San Francisco. My scores ranked me second, third, fifth, and seventeenth for Personnel Analyst, Administrative Analyst, Management Assistant, and Clerk, respectively. I attended eight interviews, took two additional technical exams, and accepted one conditional job offer. During the fingerprint background check, the City requested evidence of my rehabilitation for convictions stemming from my sole arrest in 1999. Examples of evidence listed in the request included letters from employers, community leaders, case workers, therapists, parole agents, and a pardon. In the five days allowed to submit these letters, I was able to collect six letters covering every category, except a governor’s pardon or parole agent’s praise. The City retracted its offer, citing insufficiency of evidence and proximity to vulnerable populations. The position was titled Personnel Analyst and sited on the second floor of an office building in the Recreation & Parks department.

Ironically, my appeal of this disqualification coincides with the City’s consideration of an ordinance that would have excluded the conviction from the scope of its background check, if adopted as proposed. I worry that 290 registrants will be sacrificed during a compromise to placate the hysterical and politically insure elected officials’ careers.

Not only do we pariahs need our own employment network, but also our own housing, dating, and travel expertise pools. The 290 legal, religious, medical, and technology professionals I encountered in captivity must have their counterparts among us yearning for restoration following rehabilitation.

Surreal. When I was on probation, the therapist in our group, a tough ex policewoman, and no newbie to the system, encouraged us to find each other employment. I hired one guy for a time, and when I needed help, another guy got me a job where he worked. There are, or were, I don’t know, people within the system who saw the value of keeping us employed, instead of having us homeless and stressed out and on the road back to incarceration. What the government gives with a little hand its bigger hand foolishly takes away. That’s the mine field we have to negotiate to survive. Help each other to identify the mines, defuse some and get through. Some are going to get blown up. We are all in this together.