Council Passes ‘Ban the Box’ Legislation

Yvonne Wenger and Luke Broadwater, Baltimore Sun, April 28, 2014

Controversial legislation intended to help ex-convicts find jobs is headed to Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake for her expected signature after the City Council gave the measure final approval Monday.

The “Ban the Box” bill will force Baltimore employers to wait to ask about a job candidate’s criminal history until a conditional offer has been extended. The bill passed despite an intense lobbying effort from business leaders, who said they should have the right to vet prospective employees early in the process.

The legislation requires private employers with 10 or more workers to remove from job applications a box ex-offenders must check stating they have a criminal record. Positions for which a criminal history would bar a candidate are exempt. For instance, a child care center could inquire about sexual abuse convictions, officials said.

In a statement after the Council’s 10-4 vote Monday night, Rawlings-Blake called the legislation “a critical component to not only helping to reduce unemployment, but also improving public safety by addressing recidivism.”

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The influential Greater Baltimore Committee–a network of business and civil leaders–rallied against the bill, urging the council to allow employers to ask about a job candidate’s criminal history during an interview, if not earlier. The group said the measure could discourage businesses from hiring in the city.

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So far, about 10 states and 60 local governments have enacted laws that restrict when some employers can ask a job candidate about previous convictions. Both Maryland and Baltimore already restrict when certain government agencies can ask job candidates about old convictions.

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  • Puggg

    Controversial legislation intended to help ex-convicts find jobs

    What jobs?

    There’s talk about Obama letting people out of Federal prisons. Let them out for what and to what? A country with no jobs for them, where they’ll be applying for jobs as convicted felons? Most of them will be back in prison before too long.

    • Tom Thumb

      Another point is employers will find a way to circumvent this ill conceived legislation. The legislators are never smarter than the businessmen who’ve actually built and operated establishments. They’re not going to let a dumb law hurt them.

      • Brian

        They will get around it but having to jump through this hoop will cost them time and money, and will be another nudge to drive business away from the hostile business environment.

      • Anon

        When it gets bad enough, “businessmen” will dispose of the government….and with the approval of the population. At this point, why not. Can anyone even remember the last time our government spent a dollar on or did ANYTHING they approve of or didn’t out and out gnash their teeth about.

      • MBlanc46

        One thing they’ll do is look for proxies for felony convictions. Being a black male for example.

        • It hurt me as well.

          • MBlanc46

            I’ve got a couple of half brothers with felony convictions (one mentally ill, one a minor drug dealer). I know they’ve had a hard time of it. The mentally ill one is pretty much beyond salvation, but the younger one has finally gotten his life on track. I think that most people deserve a second chance and can see offering social support to employers who want to hire ex-convicts. But forcing them to hire them, definitely no.

    • Anon

      Now that is an interesting observation. I’ll add that the current real unemployment rate is 25% and rising. Despite Obama’s fantasies to the contrary, people unemployed longer than 6 months are still unemployed even though they are no longer counted in his stats. His unemployment numbers have shrunk not because the “unemployed” have become employed but because the percentage of them unemployed greater than 6 months (ie PERMANENTLY unemployed) has doubled and then tripled under his watch. Convicts, are of course, the most unemployable of all. Of course, it helps if you actually want a job, other than that of drug dealer, mugger or welfare rat, that is.
      Far more importantly is this issue is a white issue, or rather a non-white issue. Wherever there are whites, there is employment (whether of not the employment pays in US dollars is another interesting issue). Wherever there is non-whites, there is unemployment. The US economy has essentially collapsed in all areas where non-whites are more than 10% of the population. Everywhere else, not so much.

      • IstvanIN

        If we had full-employment or a labor shortage wages would be rising and there would be NO need for artificial increases in the minimum wage rate.

        • MikeofAges

          The only time we ever had full employment was when our population was 130 millions, we were fighting a world war on three fronts, supplying three major allies, and had 10 million or more white men between 18 and 40 out of the civilian workforce. Under normal conditions, the “economy” will never create full employment.

          • IstvanIN

            Even in a full employment environment there is always some unemployment. However, I think we can all agree there is no shortage of labor.

      • Strider73

        Convicts, are of course, the most unemployable of all. Of course, it helps if you actually want a job, other than that of drug dealer, mugger or welfare rat, that is.

        Jailbirds have top priority in the Mafia’s HR department. The attrition rate is very high, after all. Just ask Luca Brasi.

  • Stupid blacks think they’re helping their “young men of color” with this stupid law. All they’re doing is making sure that more businesses fail and fewer ever get started. The financial losses from the law will be passed on to customers as higher prices. Blacks mess up every time. It’s the one thing about them you can count on.

    • Frank_DeScushin

      It’s similar to black efforts to end the supposed “school to prison pipeline” by reducing punishments for black students who cause disturbances at school. Black people think they’re protecting these black troublemakers from some alleged discrimination, but in reality they are keeping black troublemakers in black schools and are bringing down the education environment for the black students who may actually get a benefit from a less chaotic school environment.

      Blacks, far too often, favor legislation that’s intended to aid the worst amongst them, but anyone with any foresight could see that these programs will hurt far more black people than the dregs they hope to aid.

      • Anon

        Again, black people think no such thing. Someone else does that for them. Ever see a black parent who isn’t a crackhead discipline their child? No slave ever took more lashes with a piece of leather than a black child misbehaving in front of his father to the point the belt comes out.

      • MBlanc46

        Just as preventing disciplining of disruptive black youth will make them more disruptive, preventing discrimination against convicted felons in employment will lead to discrimination against all black males.

    • Urbane Neanderthal

      And then they’ll complain that businesses do not want to open in their communities.

      • Brian

        A ‘jobs desert’, doncha know.

    • Rhialto

      Medium term planning is unusual for Blacks, even those with 3 digit IQ’s. All these Black leaders are considering is that a few more thugs will be hired in the next year.

      A great way to think in a primitive African environment, not good in modern Baltimore.

    • Anon

      Blacks think no such thing. Blacks think magic is how the white man does things and he is being “stingy” by not giving all blacks millions of dollars and unlimited free crack cocaine. They actually believe this. Just ask one.

      • Ograf

        So true, and that is how they feel they have a right to rob and steal anything that isn’t nailed down. It is our fault they don’t have all that to begin with.

  • Truthseeker

    Blacks don’t improve their image when they do things like this, they detract from it. They’re essentially saying that the rules have to change because their own behavior makes them less attractive job candidates. Instead of trying to raise themselves up to a higher standard, they bring everyone else down to their standard.

  • RisingReich

    I predicted this on this very board a few months ago. I wish I was wrong, but just had a sense it was ‘pedal to the metal’ time on this AA EEOC BS.

    Remember this next time you call your broker, 401k administrator, bank, etc. You may very well be giving your personal info to a known felon of questionable character.

    “You may vet employees, but not on any criteria that matters.”

  • Bon, From the Land of Babble

    Controversial legislation intended to help ex-convicts find jobs is headed to Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake for her expected signature after the City Council gave the measure final approval Monday.

    1. Watch for an exemption soon for statehouse employees, city council members and the governor’s staffs.

    2. Watch as businesses relocate to friendlier venues like Toyota is fleeing California with 3,500 jobs.

    • I predicted business flight when the issue first came up. My first successful job interview after release from prison was at the Phil Long Ford dealership. I had actually taken classes on selling used and new cars while I was locked up. The feds had a program that would bond and insure me for the dealership free of charge. The sales manager wanted me, and there was still no way. The dealership was a very short drive away, and in nice weather a 30 minute walk. It is 10 years later, and I’d still be there if they’d taken me. I’d have ordered things from Ford Racing through them.

      Nobody wants us. Martha Stewart can’t visit Britain, neither she nor I can visit Canada, and the only reason I can go back to Australia is that I have a Permanent Resident visa. I’d have gotten citizenship there, but didn’t after I discovered there’s a A$ 300 fine if one is eligible to vote and does not.

      The first job after I got out was thus making sandwiches at a Subway. With a Master’s Degree in chemical engineering, 79 US and foreign patents awarded, about three dozen peer-reviewed papers co-authored, and I was doing fast-food work for $600 a month. I’ve taught laboratory chemistry at universities! The Subway owner was Howard Short, a dentist, who was the best boss I’ve ever had in my life, so there was an up-side to the situation. When Howard sold the place the new owner ran a background check and fired me in about 10 days. I was morning manager by then.

      My problem is that the definition of a felony has become so broad that it is now almost meaningless. Originally it meant a crime for which someone could have been executed, but was not. I’ve taken lives, but that was wartime, and the ones I know of were uniformed soldiers. I haven’t raped anyone. I didn’t steal, and in fact got a bit too angry when I was stolen from, which is why I’m a felon. I never cheated on my taxes, and in fact had my mother file a tax return for me the first year I was incarcerated. I was trying to get out of trouble, rather than into more of it. I have never cheated on my wife. When mother or wife scolds me, I don’t even argue. I know I’m going to agree anyway, so I just get it over with and save us all some needless trouble. I’ve never hit my daughter. My ex-father used to do that because he was crazy, but I just don’t have the heart for it. I don’t use drugs, and while I have tried marijuana – only after graduating college in California – I didn’t like it.

      I am a felon, though I wish I was not. Revisiting Marta Stewart, she was convicted only of lying to investigators, and thus obstruction of justice, and not the original insider trading charge. Since she was acquitted, we must assume her to be innocent. I don’t regard her as a hero, but also not a genuine criminal.

      • evilsandmich

        My problem is that the definition of a felony has become so broad…

        Exactly. If Baltimore wanted to really clean this up they would restructure the farce that has become ‘felony convictions’ instead of (just) trying to clean it up after the fact.

  • Anon

    So essentially…..in order to avoid having to deal with criminals, employers will have to routinely discard any applications by non-whites, especially blacks.
    Sounds reasonable to me.

    • MikeofAges

      The issue really is liability. Employers do whatever they have to do in order to avoid liability. Lot of people would be willing to give someone who had learned from their mistakes and worked to improve themselves a second chance. But the lawyers are always out there looking for anything they can use against you in a liability case. Our problem is that we live under the rule of lawyers. not the rule of law.

    • WR_the_realist

      Indeed. Nearly every law has unintended consequences, often the exact opposite of what the law was supposed to achieve. Make it more difficult for employers to distinguish between criminal blacks and blacks with a clean record, and they’ll just avoid hiring black people altogether.

  • IstvanIN

    As someone who believes in redemption and second chances, I would be more annoyed at interviewing and offering someone employment for a position that, after the offer is made, I would have to pull back when, if I had the facts, could have offered that individual a suitable position and hired someone else for the job I had to withdraw the offer for.

  • I don’t even want a job anymore. It isn’t worthwhile.

    • dd121

      In my humble opinion, you deserve a second chance more than anybody I know.

    • MikeofAges

      Work is a swindle. Remember the old song, “What do you get when you have employment? You get enough germs to catch depression. I-I-I will never go to work ah-gain.”

      Years ago, I was standing around with my a friend of mine, a Vietnam vet who worked in a warehouse, and my brother the systems programmer. I was unemployed at the time, a frequent condition for me thanks to the fallout from our ghetto proximate upbringing. My brother skated because he was very talented in mathematics and went to graduate school in the subject, and lived right in Silicon Valley already. Otherwise he could have ended as another maladjusted fat guy on the street corner who died young. It was a real risk. It seemed to us that no one of the three of us was any better or any worse off than the other, working for salary, working for hours, or not working at all.

      Even a life of ghetto idleness is not so bad for a guy, if he’s bright enough to keep track of what is happening in the world, and is not an addict or a soak. Not everyone is. And I have personally known people.

  • Strider73

    Since blacks love to broadcast their thuggery to the world on Facebook and Twitter, this law will be easy to ignore. Just look them up online. Problem solved, thug rejected.

  • I’ll say it again, apparently a lot of people missed it the first several times I wrote about this matter.

    Banning the box isn’t about just banning the box. The inevitable and I think intended consequence and end game is mandated affirmative action for ex-cons.

    The public policy assumption, so we are made to think, behind banning the box is that spahgetti headed Shitavious who just got out of prison would really be a great nuclear physicist, except the job application at the nuclear power plant asks if you’ve been convicted of a felony. So it’s assumed that if that question wasn’t there, Shitavious’s application wouldn’t be sent straight to File 13, the personnel people would call him in for an interview, they’d see how brilliant he is, (never minding that curious 5-10 year gap in his previous work experience), and hire him.

    C’mon, who actually thinks that’s going to happen? Even with relatively menial jobs? And like Puggg says above, we’re in a job starved climate.

    No, even if that happens, the Personnel people will still see that he’s a spaghetti headed Shitavious, see the mysterious gap in his work history, then throw his application into File 13.

    Therefore, when the box is banned, and this doesn’t result in a flood of ex-con spaghetti headed Shitaviouses getting jobs, then the same politicians will assume discrimination against ex-cons, then shazamm, here come the news laws against that, with either the outright requirement in such legislation that AA for felons happens or the implication that it needs to happen to comply with the law.

  • scutum

    Controversial legislation that will send most employers packing, but will load government agencies in Baltimore with even more slackers.

  • Alec Smarts

    Well doing the math is easy if you know the numbers. Just don’t hire ANY blacks or hispanics, and you will have already screened out 90% of all violent criminals. Problem solved. Next.

  • Dale McNamee

    I can see the liability lawsuits because of an ex-con’s behavior and civil lawsuits brought by an ex-con who was offered a job which was withdrawn, based on a “post job offer” background check…
    Hilarity ensues in Baltimore City… Break out the popcorn !

  • Sheik Yerbouti

    At some point the US will have to deal with this issue in real terms. For generations we have lived under the lie that people go to prison, pay their “debt to society” and become productive citizens again. The reality is that no matter what you have done, if it qualifies as a felony you will NEVER be forgiven and you will NEVER be able to pay off the “debt”.

    That said, yes, I agree that requiring employers to absorb this problem blindly is purely moronic. Since the government has literally created this situation, they should be the ones who put ex-cons and convicted former felons to work. Yes yes, I know this will ultimately be carried by taxpayers. But that is already happening.

    Turning this around should be the responsibility of the system that created the shell game in the first place. Yes, the criminals deserve to be punished. But if we release them with absolutely no hope of leading a normal life, what’s the point? We should simply execute them instead.