By James Chapman, President, Illinois Institute for Community Law & Affairs

The “Ban the Box” campaign, aimed at reducing the barriers to employment for those with criminal records, is continuing its efforts to educate legislators and others to make necessary policy changes. Its name refers to the question on job application forms, which asks, “Have you ever been convicted of a felony?” When an ex-prisoner checks the “Yes” box to answer the question truthfully, the chances that his or her application will be considered fairly practically becomes nil, and many potential employers take it as a signal to simply trash the application.

A notable – and quite noticeable – boost for the campaign recently garnered attention when Kent McKeever, a lawyer and minister at a Baptist church in Waco, Texas, decided to wear a prison-type orange jumpsuit for the 40 days of Lent to call attention to the obstacles ex-prisoners face when seeking a job upon their release and return to free society. He wore it to his job as the Director at Mission Waco Legal Services, while shopping, delivering his sermons, even when reporting for jury duty.

His experiences were reported in an article that appeared recently in The New York Times. You can read it by clicking here.

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