It’s come up before, and now a group of civic leaders and state legislators have gotten together to support the Opportunity to Compete Act, also know as “ban the box.”

The purpose of the legislation is to ban the practice of having a box on a job application asking whether or not the applicant has had a criminal conviction on their record. Once the applicant’s qualifications for a job are considered, employers would then be allowed to conduct background checks to see if the applicant has had a previous conviction.

It’s practical, since a good many applicants’ applications get tossed in the pail once the box is checked “yes” without being afforded the opportunity to give an explanation.

You’d also have to figure that anyone who’s been convicted of even the most minor of crimes could always lie on their application. So why have the box in the first place, knowing full well that once you check “yes,” the likelihood of it being tossed in the pail becomes that much greater. Companies will still conduct background checks and find out the truth sooner or later.

According to a quote from, Fanwood Mayor Colleen Mahr had this to say about the current policies:

 Current procedures hurt those who “get caught up in today’s zero-tolerance policies, whether it be from a college fraternity prank or getting caught smoking something a little stronger than tobacco.” Teens and young adults are often charged with criminal mischief and don’t get a second chance before they’re prosecuted, she said.

“The reality is that we all make mistakes, no matter what we look like, no matter where we come from,” she said.

“But one mistake should not make a life sentence of doors slamming in your face when you need to make a living.

While many will say that this ties the hands of the employer who should be able to make a decision as to who they want to hire without the interference of the government – it’s the government (meaning you and me) that will have to bear the high cost of recidivism or social welfare programs once those previously convicted go without gainful employment.

Banning the box, at the very least, gives the applicant a shot at a job should they possess the necessary qualifications = pending the results of a background check. The employer then has the ability, once the background check comes back, as to whether or not to hire the applicant.

In my eyes, practical.

Do you support or oppose the “Ban the Box” legislation?

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