Philadelphia To Ban Felon Question On Job Applications

PHILADELPHIA (AP) — Philadelphia will soon become the latest U.S. city to “ban the box,” prohibiting questions about a person’s criminal record on job applications.

The president of the NAACP plans to be in town Monday when Mayor Michael Nutter signs the law. (see related story)

Employers can still ask candidates about the issue, but proponents say ex-offenders at least deserve a chance to get a foot in the door. They say the interviews never come if they admit their records early on.

“Americans believe in second chances. We believe that when somebody has paid their debt to society, they deserve the right to earn a living, reunite their families,” said Benjamin Todd Jealous, president of the civil rights group.

Chicago, Boston and several other cities have adopted similar measures. Some involve only public-sector jobs, but the Philadelphia law will apply to most public and private employers.

About 65 million Americans, or one in four, have a criminal record, while 90 percent of employers use criminal background checks, according to the New York-based National Employment Law Project, which released a report on the issue last month. The group argues that stable employment will help ex-offenders straighten out their lives, and save tax dollars that would otherwise go toward supporting them in or out of prison.

“The 600,000 people that come out (of prison) a year should have a chance to live a life, and provide for their families, because they’ve already served their sentence,” said Robert Rooks, the NAACP’s director of criminal justice issues.

In Connecticut last year, Gov. M. Jodi Rell vetoed a similar bill that had been passed by the legislature, which called the bill vague and said job applicants were already protected by anti-discrimination laws. The legislature, though, overrode the Republican governor’s veto and the law took effect Oct. 1.

Some business groups, including the Greater Philadelphia Chamber of Commerce, also oppose the law. The chamber supported tax-breaks Philadelphia has offered for employers who hire ex-offenders, but fears employers would face more anti-discrimination lawsuits under the new law.

(© Copyright 2010 The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.)

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One Comment

  1. Shawn Peterson says:

    As a Republican, I support this law. I have an uncle who has a Master’s Degree in Business and worked for a big company. But, in in unwise days, he fibbed a little on his tax return and did some jail time. He has been released from prison and is very sorry he did that and wants to spend the rest of his life being an ideal American. I think his is record should be sealed from the public for job purposes. He did his time, he paid his debt. If he is going to be persecuted for life, then society should have just given him the death penalty, otherwise you have to let them live their lives again.

  2. Easy4U says:

    For those of you who think this is crazy. If you had a relitive who just has been looking for work since he got out of prison for whatever and spent 10 or more years in prison and has been doing right by the law for 9 or more years and now lost the only job due to layoffs. Ok this person is now telling the truth on every application. And still cannot get hired. So what is you solution your tax paying money paid to take care of the prisoners all those years in prison and you did not complain one bit. Now the person is doing the right thing and now one will hire him or her. GIVE THEM THE ANSWER NO BASH THEM EVERN MORE.

  3. denny bonavita says:

    Those same NAACP bigots would be the first to sue if one of my criminal-background employees ripped them off or assaulted them.

  4. Dale Engelhart says:

    Thank god I moved out of that cesspool long ago.

    Now Philly has resorted to catering to criminals…great, just freaking GREAT!

  5. xyz says:

    Affirmative action, revolving door judicial system, no background checks for felons, etc. Wow, a life of crime is looking pretty good considering there aren’t many jobs anyway. Must be Bush’s fault!

  6. Thomas says:

    What in the world does the NAACP have to do with this?


  7. Guess Who says:

    This just confirms that the raci st NAACP is on the side of the criminals

  8. sammysamples says:

    Bottom Line. Instead of using the problem of getting a job as a deterrent to committing a crime, they’re saying not to worry about it.

  9. Bill says:

    Still wouldn’t vote for Milton Street.

  10. REAL says:

    i hope mr real you get yourself in such a position and then appeal for stuff like this….go back to sleep…

  11. cleveland says:

    Keep on chiseling away at the already low employment rate. Note the NAACP will appear at the bill signing. What’s that say? Don’t worry about “acting white” kids, you can still get a job after you get out of jail.

  12. pat brown says:

    Are you kidding me? Who is protected here? Of course it is the felony. What a disgrace.

  13. NS says:

    Why are the Mayor and City Council catering to criminals instead of honest, law abiding, hard working taxpayers? Time to vote out these bums.

  14. real says:

    until a woman beater goes off and beats up his co worker or something like that, having to pay the price of having to check yes in that box is part of the punishment and all the reason why idiots should not break the law. a business has the right to know who they are handing over responsibility to….“The 600,000 people that come out (of prison) a year should have a chance to live a life, and provide for their families, because they’ve already served their sentence,” WELL MAYBE THEY SHOULD HAVE CARED SO MUCH ABOUT THEIR FAMILIES BEFORE THEY COMMITTED A FELONY!!! A FELONY i mean these guys act like these people have the same rights as the rest of the law abiding citizens and they dont, ive never been handcuffed let alone locked up why should a criminal get to even be considered for a job over me, your debt is not paid just because you do time, say a murderer does 25 years is his debt paid when the life he took can never come back …..BS you should have to pay FOREVER in some way and take accountability for your actions

    1. easy4u says:

      once you have paid 4 your crime then what do you do next. So easy 4 all of you to judge.

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