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June 12, 2020

Representatives David Trone, Maxine Waters Introduce Historic Criminal Justice Legislation to Ban the Box on Employment Applications Nationwide


Contact: Hannah Muldavin,

Representatives David Trone, Maxine Waters Introduce Historic Criminal Justice Legislation to Ban the Box on Employment Applications Nationwide

WASHINGTON – As the nation looks to reform the criminal justice system, Congressman David Trone (MD-06) and Congresswoman Maxine Waters (CA-43) introduced the Workforce Justice Act, historic legislation to ‘ban the box’ on employment applications nationwide, a move criminal justice advocates applauded.

Over 70 million Americans have an arrest or conviction record, and studies show that the chance of callbacks and job offers are reduced by nearly half if an applicant has a criminal record. Due to this barrier, millions of Americans are faced with unemployment and risk recidivism.

The Workforce Justice Act would ‘ban the box’ on private-sector employment applications that require returning citizens to notify their prospective employer of previous criminal history. The bill gives states three years to implement this policy in order to remain eligible for critical criminal justice funding for state and local governments. Currently 35 states, the District of Columbia, and over 150 cities and counties have adopted a ban the box policy. Fourteen states and eight cities, including Maryland and California, have extended these policies to private employment. Last year, Congressman Elijah Cummings’ Fair Chance Act was passed and signed into law, which banned the box for federal agencies and contractors.

“When I was the CEO of a 7,000 person company, we banned the box, hired over 500 returning citizens, and saw incredible results,” said Congressman David Trone (MD-06). “Banning the box results in higher retention rates and more dependable employees, and it’s just the right thing to do. Right now, and especially during this economic crisis, we should ensure that all Americans, regardless of their criminal history, have access to good, well-paying jobs. It’s long-past time we ban the box nationwide.”

“Many men and women who are anxious to find a job are being turned away with no consideration for the fact that they have served their time and are looking forward to being reintegrated into society and live a decent quality of life,” said Congresswoman Maxine Waters (CA-43). “I am proud that my home state of California and other states have moved forward with ‘ban the box’ initiatives, and I am so pleased to join with my colleagues to put forth legislation that will ‘ban the box’ by private employers in every state. It is imperative that previously incarcerated men and women are not denied a fair shot at employment opportunities that will help them rebuild their lives, provide for their families, and move forward on the right track upon release from prison.”

“Gainful employment is critical to a person’s successful reentry to society after incarceration and the single most important predictor of whether or not a person will return to prison. But 75 percent of formerly incarcerated people are unemployed a year after release because of employer discrimination against people with arrest and convictions histories. For Black people, a criminal record means not getting a job interview 40 percent more often than white people with similar histories” said Kanya Bennett, Senior Legislative Counsel with the American Civil Liberties Union. “With 650,000 Americans returning to communities from prison each year, employers must eliminate barriers to jobs. We laud Congressman Trone’s efforts to remove the devastating impact that criminal background checks have on people who are trying to rebuild their lives and provide for their families. Requiring states and the private sector to ban the box gives all job applicants a fair chance at opportunity and a fresh start.”

You can read more about the legislation here.

You can read the entire bill text here.

Congressman David Trone was elected to the House of Representatives in November 2018 to serve the 6th District of Maryland, which includes all or part of Montgomery, Frederick, Washington, Allegany, and Garrett Counties. Trone serves on the Education and Labor, Foreign Affairs, and Joint Economic Committees, where he is fighting to make progress on issues that matter to Marylanders, including the opioid epidemic, criminal justice reform, and funding for medical research.