‘Ban the Box’ Legislation Under Fire

Yvonne Wenger, The Baltimore Sun, March 20, 2014

An influential business group is waging a last-minute effort to derail legislation aimed at helping ex-offenders find work in Baltimore, arguing that the measure would drive jobs from the city.

The Greater Baltimore Committee has asked the City Council to delay action on the bill, due for a final vote as early as Monday, until its impact on job creation can be fully evaluated. The legislation would bar most businesses from performing a criminal background check on a potential employee until the applicant has completed the interview process and a conditional job offer has been made.

But Councilman Nick Mosby, the bill’s sponsor, said Thursday he still has the votes for the measure to pass. To respond to concerns, Mosby said he planned to offer an amendment Monday that would exclude from the legislation positions for which a criminal conviction could disqualify an applicant. Sex offenders, for instance, are legally barred from working in child care centers.

“To corporations saying we already hire ex-offenders: I get that you hire people to be janitors or to work in the back of a kitchen, but I am talking about real opportunities,” Mosby said. “How can we make sure that we’re not giving out life sentences for people’s past transgressions?”

{snip}

Several council members, such as Robert Curran and Sharon Green Middleton, pledged their continued support for the legislation, which passed unanimously on a preliminary vote. An aide to Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake previously said the mayor intended to sign the bill but urged the council this week to work with the business community to smooth out concerns.

{snip}

The bill—known as “Ban the Box,” referring to the box ex-offenders are asked to check on job applications—would apply to businesses with at least 10 workers, including contractual, temporary or seasonal staff.

The city and state already have restrictions on running background checks on candidates for government jobs. Across the country, about 10 other states and 60 municipalities have similar laws.

Baltimore runs the checks only on applicants who would work in “positions of trust,” such as police officers. Certain state offices in Maryland are prohibited from asking about past convictions until a candidate has been granted an interview.

Legislation also is pending in Annapolis that would shield certain old, nonviolent offenses from criminal record searches. Law enforcement agencies, court officials and some employers, such as day care centers and private security firms, would continue to have access to the entire record.

Donald C. Fry, president of the Greater Baltimore Committee, said the group has detailed its concerns from the outset—that the bill would impose a burden on city-based businesses not faced elsewhere in the region, and subject them to inappropriate criminal and civil penalties for violations. Fry said he wants to work with Mosby.

{snip}

Fry’s group, made up of area business leaders, submitted a position paper opposing the bill weeks ago but began a more aggressive campaign last week with a strongly worded letter to the mayor and City Council. {snip}

{snip}

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  • We read: “Ban the box”

    We should translate that as: “Affirmative action for felons”

    That’s the real and in fact only logically possible end game to all this. When the box is banned (on initial employment application forms) and that doesn’t result in loads of ex-cons getting jobs, they’ll next want legal non-discrimination for felons in the hiring process. Then every felon job applicant who doesn’t land a job will sue every employer that doesn’t give him a job. The whole thing ends up with either legislatively mandated or judicially supervised AA for felons.

    • Pro_Whitey

      Given the potential for litigation wins for the ex-cons, this could be another form of AARP – African American Retirement Planning. No need to save if you can sue.

  • The costs of this libtard measure will be high, both in terms of money and in terms of tragedy. As QD notes in his comment, lawsuits are one cost, but there’s also theft, vandalism, and inefficiency costs. Violent felons are going to chimp out, causing injury and death at the workplace. Baltimore will go down the same rat hole as Detroit eventually, and deservedly so.

    • 1stworlder

      No why wouldn’t you want someone convicted of stealing and raping in your workforce?

  • thomas edward

    The point is they can make all the laws they want, but if it’s not a good law, the business people will get around it. That’s why they’re running businesses, and the liars/lawyers/legislators aren’t in businessmen’s league when it comes to smarts.

    • sbuffalonative

      Then the ghetto lottery (lawsuits) begin.

  • Ed

    LOL Baltimore is on its way to joining Detroit, Memphis as Black hole cities.

    • Einsatzgrenadier

      Everything blacks touch, they destroy. Those “people” do far more damage than a nuclear weapon slamming into the earth’s surface.

  • dd121

    What kind of a government would tell a business person that they can’t screen felons from their business?

    • Dale McNamee

      A totalitarian one…and one who hires and promotes felons itself…

      • dd121

        The constitution was an instrument to limit the power of government and politicians. Todays crop see no boundaries in their power over you.

        • Dale McNamee

          That’s because no one has the courage to stand up to them… If you do, you get intimidated by government goons…

      • Only a criminal government.

  • Dale McNamee

    Some questions for the critics of “the box” :

    Would you hire a robber to handle your cash register and make bank deposits ” ?

    Would you hire a child molester for your daycare ?

    Would you hire a drug abuser as a pharmacist or any other position that grants them access to “Class 1” drugs ?

    Would you hire an embezzler to handle your company’s finances ?

    Etc. ?

    • I am a convicted extortionist, but I handled the cash register and made bank deposits while daytime manager of a Subway restaurant in 1994. I was just happy to be home. There was never any money missing, and after I went home for dinner, I often brought my own tools back to the store to do repair work there. When the store was sold, the new owner picked another manager. Maybe he ran a background check on me or maybe he didn’t.

      I was just happy to have another chance in life. Some of the other convicts who aren’t messed up on drugs probably want that as well. My complaint about this issue is the racial angle. If it was only white guys who had messed up, nobody would care.

      Now I stay home with my daughter, tie fishing flies, make fishing lures, try to cheer Bon up, and annoy some of you with personal anecdotes.

      • Dale McNamee

        I’m very happy for you ! Stories like yours should be promoted.
        I agree with you on the racial angle but Baltimore City is mostly black and almost every day there’s a crime committed and the perp is usually black…
        My wife has been a correctional nurse for 20 years and watching the news with her is interesting… When the “mug shot” is televised, she says : ” I know him or her “…

    • Malgus

      It depends, Dale. Not trying to be snarky, but if I needed a computer security guru, would I hire the IT guy who graduated middle of the pack, or would I hire the guy who did 3 years for successfully hacking into the NSA’s computer network? In this case, if you want to prevent bad guys from accessing your stuff, then you hire a former bad guy. And then you pay him well so nobody leverages him.

      But, would I hire some mouth-breathing smash-and-grab knucklehead for anything? Well, brooms don’t operate themselves…

      • Dale McNamee

        I see your point… “It depends” was the answer that I got when I asked the question…
        I wasn’t trying to provoke a fight and I’m glad that ex-inmates are getting hired.
        My wife works as a correctional nurse and often sees former inmates at the store,local restaurant, on the street. She’s greeted warmly and if the inmate’s family is with him or her, she is introduced to them as well. And my wife is very happy that the inmates are “making it”.
        Then, there are those who return to the crime life…
        The point of my comment was that the potential employer should know who he’s hiring.

        • Malgus

          I agree.

          My views on things, like anyone else’s, are evolving. I used to believe that a person who had done something in order to get tossed in the stoney lonesome, well, they had their rights taken away from them.

          Once they did their time (ALL their time – no “good behavior” BS) then their debt to society was stamped PAID IN FULL and they were released. Upon release, their rights were restored to them – ALL their rights. Yes, even voting and firearms ownership. The Framers would have been appalled and horrified that citizens were stripped of their rights, permanently, under color of law, for any reason. I tend to feel the same way.

          If a person (in this case, a white person) is so dangerous and cannot be trusted with ALL his or her rights upon release from jail, then that person should not be released from jail, ever. Perhaps banishment would serve a purpose here.

          Yes, I understand there are mentally deranged people- sociopaths, psychopaths, etc. And if those people are caught or guilty of doing something heinous and egregious, then they should be executed. It would be more humane than locking them up forever (cheaper too).

          But if it’s just a regular schmoe who happened to get caught up in something, and he or she knew better, then let them do their time and then restore their rights. Then find them gainful employment somewhere.

          I am, of course, limiting this to whites only. The blacks and browns cannot be trusted.

          • Alexandra1973

            I was actually just thinking the same thing.

            I would look at a white person’s overall record. If it’s clear they didn’t learn their lesson, forget it (depending on what position I was hiring fore). People generally deserve a second chance.

            Except for those whose very nature makes them into habitual offenders. You have blacks who think a rap sheet a mile long means good street cred…forget it. Do not want.

        • It doesn’t make any sense to go back to crime. One of my friends in federal prison was already a convicted counterfeiter, and did it again. He was an amazing chess player and used to plan out small business start-ups in detail, writing off for the information. I thought he really wanted to go legit.

          He did it again, and now doesn’t get out until 2036, by which time he will be 72. It’s a complete tragedy in some of these cases, but people are usually their own worst enemies.

          • Malgus

            Too bad. Thing is, if he was genuinely really, really good at it, he should have gone to work for the Treasury Department in their counterfeiting division as an adviser – what better way to track down and bust counterfeiters than employing one of their own to hunt them? Not saying he should have been a government stooge, but rather an adviser to the stooges… subtle difference, but an important one.

          • Dale McNamee

            True,very true…

  • IstvanIN

    I get that you hire people to be janitors or to work in the back of a kitchen, but I am talking about real opportunities,
    That sounds like an opportunity to prove that you have changed and that you can be a productive, honest employee who is worthy of better positions. You don’t prove yourself by being hired as the store manager.

    • Fighting_Northern_Spirit

      You put your finger on a common black/brown belief – that Whites (and probably Asians) start at the top by virtue of their skin color, and denying black/brown high school dropouts CEO positions is ipso facto racist.

    • SFLBIB

      Amen, baby.

    • Exactly. An ex-offender does the grunt-work first. If he does his job and doesn’t cause trouble at work, only then do opportunities improve. I started at Subway after my release baking bread, making sandwiches and washing dishes. The money wasn’t great and the work was tiring – especially during the lunch rush – but I was happy to have my probation officer off my back.

  • MBlanc46

    From what I read about Baltimore, it probably doesn’t matter much. The last white will be leaving Baltimore within a couple of decades, anyway. Maybe it’s just as well to get it over with.

    • evilsandmich

      I’m kind of surprised by the hub-bub since if you’re hiring in Baltimore your pool of potential non-felon employees is probably limited.

  • negrolocaust

    A white customer leaving a Route
    58 grocery store was reportedly targeted as a victim of “the knockout game” after being thrown to the ground by a black man while a
    group of black teens watched laughing Tuesday afternoon, Riverhead Town
    police said.
    The victim said she was walking out of King Kullen shopping center
    about 12:10 p.m., bags in hand, when she saw a black man running at her from
    the distance, according to a report.
    After changing her direction in an attempt to avoid him, the black man
    followed, and “deliberately ran into her at full speed,” police said.
    The woman, who suffers from scoliosis, was knocked to the ground, her
    purchases scattered around her. However she did not suffer any
    injuries, authorities said.
    When looking back at the direction the black man can from, she said a group
    of black “teens” started laughing as the black man ran away from her, the report
    reads.

    • LHathaway

      I think ‘scoliosis’ is something much more likely to affect the black population. . so better remind the media about this scourge of black-on-black crime. . .

      • Katherine McChesney

        I’ve known a number of White Women who had scoliosis. It is NOT a black ‘thing’.

    • I always use a throat-punch in that situation. They go down right away and they don’t get up very soon.

  • negrolocaust

    A portmanteau plural portmanteaux or portmanteaus or portmanteau word is a combination of two or more words or morphemes and their definitions into one new word. The word comes from the English portmanteau luggage a piece of luggage with two compartments itself derived from the French porter to carry and manteau coat which is a false friend of the French compound word porte-manteau meaning coat rack. to wit NEGROLOCAUST. NEGRO HOLOCAUST.

  • GB101

    But Councilman Nick Mosby, the bill’s sponsor, said Thursday he still has the votes for the measure to pass. To respond to concerns, Mosby said he planned to offer an amendment Monday that would exclude from the legislation positions for which a criminal conviction could disqualify an applicant. Sex offenders, for instance, are legally barred from working in child care centers.

    How is this exception supposed to work? The article says the ordinance would prohibit criminal background checks until after a conditional job offer has been made. If there is an exception for criminal conviction could disqualify an applicant, then the employer could, it would appear, do an earlier check. However, how do you do a criminal background check for selected offenses?

  • JackKrak

    Just a matter of time before Baltimore, Detroit, Newark, Oakland, etc. demand that contractors hire felons to get city contracts.

    In fact, one day there will be a generation of people who will think it strange that it wasn’t always that way.

    • LHathaway

      That was what the welfare reform act of 1996 was about (and still enacted as law)? Companies get a tax break if they show they have hired someone who receives government benefits (which they would presumably need less of after they are hired). I believe they get that same tax break for hiring ex-cons as well.

      • The only program I know of for ex-cons is a Federal one, for former Federal inmates, which will bond and insure them for work requiring that. I applied as a car salesman at a Ford dealership here after my release, but they wouldn’t use the Federal program. I was disappointed, because I had taken car sales classes in prison.

  • SFLBIB

    “Baltimore runs the checks only on applicants who would work in ‘positions of trust’,…”

    AAAARRRRRG!!! Everyone works in a position of trust.

  • MikeofAges

    Not quite so simple, though. Part of the issue is that employers don’t want to sign on to the idea of “giving someone a chance” or the idea of “paying your debt to society” because of potential liability, in other words, doing something that could be used against them in a future lawsuit. True that the most of the bad players find their way into the ranks of convicted felons, but not all convicted felons are bad players, or even more dangerous than anyone else of their station in society. Something like half of all convicted felons either have never been in jail or have spent only a few days in custody. Many others, months, not years.

    Our problem is that we live under the rule of lawyers, not the rule of law. Anywhere you find that beast, don’t feed it. Think the issue out first before you toss someone convenient under the bus in order to save your own precious white skin for a little while longer. That old saw about “when they come for whatever, I said nothing because I wasn’t whatever” is not a joke. If you think you can sit around in your nest of guns and do nothing else beyond that to protect yourself against an all-powerful government and an all-powerful legal profession and concomitant elite, you might find yourself surrounded and alone one day. Happened before, to various people for various reasons.