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Cummings and Other Lawmakers Press to Eliminate Job Discrimination against Former Felons

Baltimore Fishbowl

By Ambriah Underwood, Capital News Service

Former felons could have more success securing employment under bipartisan legislation introduced Thursday that would bar federal employers from asking requests for applicants’ criminal histories before conditional job offers.

Reps. Elijah Cummings (D-Baltimore) and Doug Collins (R-Georgia) joined with Sens. Cory Booker (D-New Jersey) and Ron Johnson (R-Wisconsin) to propose the Fair Chance Act, an attempt to decrease rates of recidivism by helping ex-convicts secure jobs.

The bill would “ban the box,” directing employers to discontinue applications requiring candidates to check a box indicating their criminal records.

“This bill would give individuals who are re-entering society from prison a fair chance at truly achieving the American dream and becoming contributing members of our communities,” said Cummings, chairman of the House Oversight and Reform Committee.

“We have a criminal justice system where the collateral consequences for Americans with a criminal conviction are like getting a life sentence—affecting their ability to vote, to get housing and critically, to get back to work,” Booker, a presidential candidate, said in a statement.

Thirty-three states and more than 150 cities and counties have adopted laws or policies that “ban the box,” extending the jurisdiction of such policies to almost three-fourths of the U.S. population, according to the National Employment Law Project.

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