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April 18, 2023

 Trone, Waters Reintroduce the Workforce Justice Act to ‘Ban the Box’ on Employment Applications Nationwide


April 18, 2023

Contact: Sloane Gallagher, 

 Trone, Waters Reintroduce the Workforce Justice Act to ‘Ban the Box’ on Employment Applications Nationwide 

WASHINGTON, D.C. – Today, in honor of Second Chance Month, Congressman David Trone (MD-06) and Congresswoman Maxine Waters (CA-43) reintroduced the Workforce Justice Act to encourage states to ‘ban the box’ on employment applications nationwide and give justice-impacted individuals a greater chance of gaining employment. Specifically, the legislation gives states three years to implement this policy in order to remain eligible for critical criminal justice funding for state and local governments. 

In the United States, nearly 80 million people have an arrest or conviction record, and around 60% of them struggle with unemployment after release. This is largely due to long-held discriminatory practices to filter out returning citizens from candidate pools – in fact, when job applicants disclose their criminal record, it reduces the likelihood of a callback by 50%. And yet, studies show that when hired, returning citizens have a significantly lower turnover rate than other employees and are far more likely to stay out of the criminal system than their unemployed peers. This effort will benefit our local economies and set up returning citizens for success.

The reintroduction comes a few months after Trone launched the Bipartisan Second Chance Task Force, which aims to promote policies that will improve reentry outcomes and reduce employment barriers for returning citizens.

“If we want to lower our nation’s recidivism rate, we have to ensure that returning citizens have the tools and skills needed to successfully reenter society — and that starts with a job,” said Congressman David Trone (MD-06). “‘Banning the box’ makes it much easier for folks to find employment after they’ve been released from prison and is proven to improve outcomes for businesses. I’m proud to introduce this legislation with Congresswoman Waters by my side, a dear friend and outspoken advocate for reforming our criminal justice system. As someone who hired over 500 returning citizens and proudly banned the box when I was CEO of my company, I’ve seen the benefits of hiring returning citizens firsthand. America is a nation of second chances, and it’s about time our criminal justice system reflected that.”

“For previously incarcerated men and women who are doing their part to reintegrate into society, the job application process is often stressful and debilitating due to the rate at which they are denied consideration for employment because of the fact that they have served time,” said Congresswoman Maxine Waters (CA-43). “This legislation to ban the box would take critical steps forward to ensure that the nearly 80 million Americans who have an arrest or conviction record are not left behind. By prohibiting private employers from asking about the criminal history of a job applicant prior to the extension of a conditional offer of employment, as my state of California has already done, job applicants with a criminal history will be evaluated based on their qualifications alone and have a fair shot at rebuilding and reclaiming their lives. Thank you to Congressman Trone for partnering with me in this effort and being a trusted voice on second chance opportunities.”

For bill text, click here.

What is ‘ban the box’?

Currently, private-sector companies are able to enforce a disclosure of criminal history when candidates apply for a job. This preliminary indication of an arrest or conviction record – no matter the crime or the time passed – significantly reduces the likelihood of callbacks and job offers. Because of this, formerly incarcerated individuals face an astronomically high unemployment rate, putting them at risk for recidivism and negatively impacting our communities.

Currently, 36 states, the District of Columbia, and over 150 cities and counties have adopted a ‘ban the box’ policy. Fourteen states and twenty cities and counties, including Maryland and California, have extended these policies to private employment. Congressman Trone wrote about his support for Maryland’s ‘ban the box’ effort in 2019. 

In 2019, Congressman Elijah Cummings’ Fair Chance Act was passed and signed into law, which ‘banned the box’ for federal agencies and contractors.

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 Appropriations, Budget, and Joint Economic Committees in the 118th Congress. In Congress, Trone is fighting to make progress on issues that matter to Marylanders, including the mental health and addiction crises, criminal justice reform, and funding for medical research.

Follow Congressman Trone at @RepDavidTrone for updates on Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram.