Last week, the state of Virginia voted to ban the question that asks job applicants about their past criminal history. The change, which will affect the application process for most state jobs, at least gives those with past offenses a greater chance of advancing through the hiring process due to less-immediate discrimination. It’s more about the skill set. However, the order doesn’t apply to private businesses.
It is no secret that people of color are disproportionately affected by criminal background checks. When an individual is released from prison and has trouble obtaining gainful employment, the chances of recidivism or re-offending rise. Not only does this open a door to income and self-sufficiency those who just need an opportunity, it keeps communities safer.
According to the Department of Justice, over 650,000 people are released from prison yearly to return to their communities. Virginia is the latest state to ban the box. At least 14 others along with an increasing number of municipalities have joined the campaign.