New state law should make it easier for felons to get work

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With the recent announcement that Target Corp. will roll out a national program early next year eliminating the box on employment applications that asks job seekers whether they have a criminal record, state Rep. La Shawn K. Ford (D-Chicago) encourages all employers to consider following the retailer’s lead

Last month, Gov. Pat Quinn signed an administrative order directing state agencies to “ban the box” and remove the question on state employment applications that asks if an applicant has ever been convicted of a felony.

“By ‘banning the box,’ more and more businesses demonstrate that it is good for business and it is the right thing to do,” Ford state in a statement.

“Businesses can still do background checks later in the application process, and we can improve our country’s workforce pool by considering all qualified potential employees, so the best-skilled person can be hired,” the Austin lawmaker said.

Wal-Mart removed the criminal history box from its job applications in 2010. This year, Minnesota became the third state in the nation to pass a law requiring private employers to eliminate the potentially incriminating check-off box.

“When I first introduced legislation in 2007 to ‘ban the box’ on state employment applications, it was the result of a real need for job opportunities and a way to reduce recidivism and reduce the amount we spend on corrections,” Ford said.

“Private corporations that have taken this step are leading the way for other businesses. We will continue the work to advance legislation so the administrative order that bans the box on state job applications becomes an Illinois state statute,” he said.

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