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Ban the Box seeks to help former criminals get on with their lives

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Ban the box. That is the name of a nationwide initiative making it easier for people with criminal records to get a job. And a couple of Wisconsin lawmakers are leading the charge. The bill, which has bipartisan support in Congress, would make it illegal for the federal government or its contractors to ask applicants about their criminal history on the job application. There would be some exceptions, including applying for jobs in law enforcement or security. And federal employers would be allowed to ask about someone’s criminal history once an employer is ready to make a job offer. The bill has already passed the House of Representatives, and U.S. Senator Ron Johnson of Wisconsin is hoping to get it passed in the Senate. The movement is growing. More than 30 states, including Wisconsin and Minnesota already have similar bans in place. Johnson’s co-sponsor, Democratic Senator Cory Booker, says the bill gives “Formerly incarcerated Americans the dignity and justice they deserve to contribute to our nation.” Those who have been convicted of a crime, but who have satisfied their debt to society should not face such steep hurdles trying to once again become productive members of society. Getting a job is a big step for someone trying to get back on their feet. Banning the box would help reduce one of those hurdles.

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