Now as a construction worker and member of Liuna Local 78, I earn a wage that pays the bills and enables me to provide for my family and focus on being the best father I can be. This year, for the first time, I was able to throw my daughter a birthday party and pay for it myself. My family is proud of me again and that's worth more than anything. I'm incredibly thankful for the second chance to live a decent life, especially because I know there are so many other formerly incarcerated job seekers in every city in America who are out there struggling to find work.
According to a New York Times/CBS News/Kaiser Family Foundation poll, men with criminal records account for about 34 percent of all nonworking men between the ages of 25-54 (generally considered the prime working age). A study of help-wanted advertisements in Virginia found that of more than 192,000 total positions listed, just under 16,000 (or 8.23 percent) were open to hiring an applicant with a record. It is clear that for many formerly incarcerated job seekers, the chance for a decent job is slim.
The good news is things are changing across the country. Some of our nation's largest employers and over 100 cities have banned the box. Recently, a coalition of nonprofits and activists — including National Employment Law Project, the American Civil Liberties Union and Color of Change — delivered a petition with more than 130,000 signatures to the White House, demanding the president "ban the box" for all federal employers and contractors. Communities see that fair chance policies help the entire population and economies.
According to a case study by The Southern Coalition for Social Justice, in Durham County, North Carolina, the number of applicants with criminal records recommended for hire has nearly tripled in the two years since its "ban the box" policy passed, with the resulting number of hires increasing from 35 to 97. On average, 96.8 percent of those with records recommended for hire ultimately get the job.