Ban the Box

Ban the Box Research Finds Job Applications Without Criminal History Question Help with Hiring of Ex-Offenders

Written By ESR News Blog Editor Thomas Ahearn

A study of “Ban the Box” laws found removing the criminal history question from job applications helps to increase the hiring of ex-offenders with conviction records and to ease their re-entry into the workforce after being released from prison, according to research from Case Western Reserve University.

Ban the Box Helps Ex-Offenders

“The hundreds of thousands of individuals who reenter society – and our economy – every year are a significant potential resource that is unrepresented in our workforce,” Daniel Shoag, a visiting associate professor of economics at the university’s Weatherhead School of Management, stated in a news story.

“Ban the Box” – which removes the box job applicants are asked to check if they have a criminal record – increased employment of residents in high-crime U.S. neighborhoods by up to 4 percent, research from a chapter that Shoag and Stan Veuger co-authored for the book “Education for Liberation” revealed.

However, women – particularly African-American women who are less likely to have been convicted of crimes than black males – were hired less often in communities that had “Ban the Box” laws likely due to an increase in the hiring of black men at the same time. Other findings of the research include:

  • Employment increased in communities that had “Ban the Box” laws were particularly large in the public sector and in lower-wage jobs.
  • Positive employment effects were seen across multiple income and skill levels, as well as in urban and suburban areas.
  • “Ban the Box” promoted what’s known as “upskilling” – increases in education and experience requirements – as employers substitute criminal-background questions for others to determine an applicant’s qualifications.

“In all likelihood, questions like ‘Have you ever been convicted of a crime?’ scare away some applicants who have much to offer,” Shoag also stated in the news story. “At the same time, potential employers likely dismiss the prospects of anyone with a conviction, regardless of their skills or education.”

Almost 650,000 men and women return home from prison every year and struggle to find work, housing, and a supportive social network. A Department of Justice (DOJ) study of 404,638 inmates in 30 states released in 2005 identified that 68 percent were rearrested within three years and 77 percent within five years of release.

“Ban the Box” is a nationwide movement that seeks to advance job opportunities for people with prior criminal convictions by delaying the criminal history question until later in the hiring process. As of March 2019, more than 150 cities and counties as well as 33 states have passed Ban the Box laws.

“Ban the Box” laws have become pervasive enough for studies to show whether fair chance rules are effective and this growing trend was chosen by leading global background check provider Employment Screening Resources® (ESR) as one of the “ESR Top Ten Background Check Trends” for 2019.

ESR Ban the Box Resource Page

Employment Screening Resources® (ESR) offers employers a Ban the Box Resource Page the contains complimentary whitepapers, infographics, and an interactive map updated with the latest Ban the Box laws. The Ban the Box Resource Page is at

NOTE: Employment Screening Resources® (ESR) does not provide or offer legal services or legal advice of any kind or nature. Any information on this website is for educational purposes only.

© 2019 Employment Screening Resources® (ESR) – Making copies or using of any part of the ESR News Blog or ESR website for any purpose other than your own personal use is prohibited unless written authorization is first obtained from ESR.


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