Don’t Force Job-Seeking Former Prisoners to Disclose Criminal Background

Target: Janet Dhillon, Chair of the U.S Equal Employment Opportunity Commission

Goal: Ban “the box” and end discriminatory hiring practices.

Nearly half of formerly incarcerated people are unable to find a job one year after being released. One of the main contributors to this tragically high unemployment rate among people with criminal records is a form of legalized discrimination nicknamed “the box,” which requires Americans to disclose their criminal background to employers on job applications.

The U.S imprisons far more people than any other country in the world. While just 4% of the world’s population lives within U.S. borders, over 20% of all incarcerated people globally are in their prisons. The scope of the American criminal justice system is so vast that 1 in 3 adults has a criminal record. In over half of the United States, people are required to disclose their criminal background to employers. This leads to unrestrained discrimination against people who have already served their time, and it makes achieving financial security all but impossible for formerly incarcerated people.

We know that the criminal justice system within America is neither fair nor equal. Black and brown people are disproportionately likely to be arrested and are far more likely to be sentenced to significantly longer sentences than their white counterparts. In addition, most people who do go to prison live in poverty. A study from 2014 found that incarcerated people had a median income of just $19,185. So not only do criminal background disclosures discriminate against all incarcerated people, but they disproportionately hurt both people of color and many of America’s poorest citizens

No person who has served their time deserves to be discriminated against. Let formerly incarcerated Americans work. Sign below and tell the states who haven’t acted yet to ban “the box” now.


Dear Commissioner Dhillon,

The EEOC has already done great work when it comes to the advancement of equal employment opportunities for incarcerated people; however, that work is still far from done. While employees with criminal records are safe from blanket bans, they are still on the receiving end of widespread discrimination, a large portion of which stems from having to disclose their criminal past on their application forms, a requirement known as “the box.”

1 in 3 adults in America have served time; and yet they continue to be hurt after they are supposedly free. Nearly half are unable to find jobs after incarceration, and those who do tend to remain below the poverty line. America has a prison problem, and while work needs to be done on the incoming end, the work that needs to be done on the outgoing end includes banning “the box,” so that criminals cannot be discriminated against, consciously or subconsciously.

Please, ban “the box” and work towards true employment equality.


[Your Name Here]

Photo Credit: Senate Democrats

One Comment

  1. Everyone, including former prisoners, are entitled to a second chance once they have served time for their offense. People can change. Hopefully these former prisoners will have changed and now be able to be part of society. It is important they be supported as they enter the work force and as they go out into society. It is better for them if their prison time is not on their employment record.

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