Prince George’s County Council Considers Bill to “Ban the Box”

In an effort to break some of the barriers faced by ex-offenders to finding jobs, Prince George’s County Council is considering legislation to limit employers’ ability to ask job applicants about their criminal history at the beginning of the application process. As reported in The Washington Post:

Council member Obie Patterson (D-Fort Washington), who introduced the bill to the full chamber Tuesday, said he was convinced of the need for a new law after serving on the Maryland Parole Commission, where he watched a seemingly endless stream of men and woman cycle in and out of the judicial system.

“They couldn’t find jobs,” Patterson said.

If the proposal passes, the county will become the latest local jurisdiction to “ban the box,” or prohibit private employers from asking those seeking jobs to check a box on the application form indicating whether they have been convicted of a crime.

The legislation prohibits inquiries about a prospective hire’s criminal history until after the first job interview.

If passed the law would be enforced by the county Human Relations Commission and would exempt emergency management and public safety agencies. The council will hold a public hearing and full vote on the bill on November 19, 2014.

The article also notes that the state of Maryland, the city of Baltimore, and other state and local governments nationwide have enacted similar laws with varying details.

For more information read the full article in The Washington Post.