Update: Ban the Box legislation, HB 3025, passed the Oregon Senate on June 11 and the Oregon House on June 16. It now heads to Governor Brown’s desk for final signature!
Many Oregon parents define themselves by the myriad of roles they play in their children’s lives: caretakers, educators, medics, transportation specialists, counselors, and so many more…
But when some Oregon parents try to provide for their children by applying for a job, they are defined only by a box they are required to check on a job application: convicted criminal. It is an incredibly dehumanizing experience and one that is often encountered by some mothers and fathers in Oregon.
The “box” is a spot on many employment and housing applications in Oregon that asks whether the applicant has been convicted of a crime or been incarcerated. This hurdle makes it difficult to find work and housing even as the economy is improving. Research affirms that a criminal record reduces the likelihood of a job callback by nearly 50%.
“Families are put at greater risk of poverty when parents who have records are unable to find work because of institutional barriers,” says Andrea Paluso, the Executive Director of Family Forward Oregon. “Here in Oregon, more than 75 percent of Oregon’s female prisoners are mothers and, as of 2012, there were 7,520 parents in prison in our state.”
And it hits some families harder than others. Nearly 11% of those under Department of Corrections supervision in Oregon are African American, while the state as whole is only 2%, creating greater barriers to employment and housing stability for this population and their families.
This session, Oregon lawmakers have a chance to reduce barriers and create an opportunity for job applicants. On Wednesday, March 25th the Oregon House Business and Labor Committee will hear testimony on House Bill 3025, Ban the Box legislation.
HB 3025 gives Oregonians who’ve served their time a second chance at earning a paycheck. The bill makes it illegal for employers to use job application forms to ask about criminal history or disqualify an applicant from employment because of a prior conviction unless the conviction is job-related. The legislation is incredibly important to the economic stability of Oregon’s children and families and is featured in the 2015 Children’s Agenda.
If you agree it is time to “ban the box” and un-stack the deck so everyone has an opportunity to succeed, join advocates in Salem on Wednesday, March 25th at 8 a.m. for the hearing on House Bill 3025. Click here to RSVP!