The campaign to “Ban the Box,” part of the program to reduce the barriers to employment for those with criminal records, is continuing with efforts to communicate and educate legislators and others in positions to make the necessary changes.

“Ban the Box” refers to the question on job applications forms that asks, “Have you ever been convicted of a felony?” When an ex-prisoner checks the “Yes” box to answer the question truthfully, he or she greatly reduces the chances that his or her application will be given fair consideration. To many employers, it serves as a signal to simply trash the application. Ex-prisoner advocates and supporters believe the question – nee the “box” – should be banned from job application forms, thus helping to afford applicant unbiased consideration based on merit prior to the question of a criminal record being raised in the hiring process.

Although the campaign has been successful in several states, efforts to get a bill through the Illinois Legislature have failed – with one exception: The only time it gained legislative approval, it was vetoed by then-Gov. Rod Blagojevich without comment or explanation.

The reasons are many and varied, but a lack of understanding of the importance of giving ex-prisoners even the minimum opportunity to find employment. In a recent Medill Report, published by Northwestern University and authored by Alexandra Schwappach, examines the issue and discusses ways in which the campaign can be supported.

To reach the report, click here.