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The Source: San Antonio To 'Ban The Box' For City Jobs, But Advocates Want More

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"Have you ever been convicted of a crime?" It's a simple question on a job application but many say checking the "yes" box is a barrier to entry, stigmatizing an otherwise-qualified person because of their criminal history.

To discourage these potentially discriminatory hiring practices, the City of San Antonio recently became the fourth major city in Texas to "ban the box" on City job applications.

Under the new Fair Chance Hiring Ordinance, ex-offenders will no longer have to answer questions about their criminal past on the initial application. Instead of weeding out all those who checked "yes" up front, City employers must now wait until an applicant has an opportunity to prove his or her qualifications in an interview and may only run a background check after making a conditional job offer.

Nine states and 25 cities have extended fair-chance policies to the private sector. Advocates say that banning the box encourages professional development in ex-offenders who feel they have a fair chance to reenter the workforce. The result would increase the applicant pool, boost the economy and reduce recidivism.

Opponents says banning the box actually exacerbates racial bias in hiring practices. Last week, Texas State Representative Paul Workman filed House Bill 577to prohibit, limit or regulate private employers' ability to look into applicants' criminal histories.


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