‘Ban the Box’

Obama's new plan would put felons in jobs and on campuses — with no one the wiser

Would you want your son or daughter to be roommates with a criminal? Share a room, bathroom, and dining halls with someone convicted of a crime? Most parents and guardians would say no. It seems, however, that some people may be perfectly OK with it.

A new movement is gaining momentum across the country over this very issue — and the college application process may soon change because of it.

“Ban the Box” is a movement to protect job applicants — and now students — from being asked about their criminal history. Felons and criminals need to check a box admitting they have a criminal record. Under the new plan, they would not. This means any applicant for a job or college, no matter what prior criminal charges he or she has, will no longer be required to disclose a criminal history. Whether someone shoplifted — or murdered — no one at the company or college would ever know.

Whether someone shoplifted — or murdered — no one at the company or college would ever know.

Some campus officials disagree with removing the box, saying that the question gives more insight into the applicant, as well as helping the college to take steps to keep everyone on campus safe. But opponents to this required part of an application say it is an unnecessary barrier that hurts certain groups of students.

Nationwide, over 100 cities and universities have adopted “Ban the Box.”

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In his last months in office, President Obama has advocated for comprehensive criminal justice reform and openly supports “Ban the Box.” He has even gone as far as taking executive action to ban this question at federal agencies. Liberals may be all for this, no matter what consequences it may bring, but they fail to realize that some colleges and universities are compelled by law to ask for this information and the question cannot simply be removed from applications.

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The movement’s website, bantheboxcampaign.org, asks people to pledge “to always welcome formerly incarcerated peoples into my community [and] support changes in policies that discriminate against the formerly incarcerated.” It asks employers to pledge “to hire and support the formerly incarcerated, to support the elimination of any restrictions on participation that may exclude the formerly incarcerated [and] to encourage others to also institute fair hiring practices.”

People are giving sympathy to criminals at the expense of safety. If the movement succeeds, applicants won’t see this message on an application anymore: “Have you ever been adjudicated guilty or convicted of a misdemeanor, felony, or other crime?”

But students will see potentially dangerous people at their jobs and schools — and they won’t have any idea. Good plan.

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