How Ban the Box Can Lead to Even More Racial Discrimination by Employers


As concerns over racial disparities in the United States’ criminal justice system intensify, researchers are starting to investigate the effectiveness of some downstream solutions. Included in those solutions is “Ban the Box,” a movement that demands employers stop asking job applicants about their criminal histories. The rationale is simple: An employer should consider an applicant’s current qualifications for a particular job before investigating that applicant’s criminal past. (Once an interviewee is called back, the employer can then inquire about that background.)

Hawaii was the first state to pass a Ban the Box (BTB) law, in 1998; Minnesota followed suit in 2009. Between 2010 and 2015, 14 other states and…

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