This is an archived article that was published on sltrib.com in 2016, and information in the article may be outdated. It is provided only for personal research purposes and may not be reprinted.
It's a fact that many people do not like to address in their own communities felons live among us. It is also a fact that felons have served time for their crimes, and through our newest investments in our justice system, often walk out of prison or jail with new life and job skills to help them make good choices for their future. But what happens when one of those people has worked so hard on the inside to improve his lot in life, only to find on the outside no one will hire him?
Employment is a key factor in supporting people who are reintegrating into our communities after incarceration. It is one of the top two issues that can determine whether or not someone winds up back behind bars. It is vital that, as we continue to work on making prison systems rehabilitative, we continue to support those formerly-incarcerated in our communities. "Banning the Box" does just that.
The "Ban the Box" movement is sweeping the country as a way to give a fair chance of employment to everyone who has the skills and experience necessary to do a job. It removes questions and check boxes from job applications asking about criminal records in either recent or long-past history. Ridding our communities of this one small check box can open up whole worlds to those people seeking employment after incarceration or arrest.
If a felon has the skills and experience to do a job, shouldn't he or she be given that interview? If someone formerly incarcerated has the wherewithal to make your business successful, shouldn't that person be given the opportunity to share their ideas? If we expect these people to contribute to society, is it fair to shut them down at every turn?
Last November, President Obama took executive action to "Ban the Box" on federal employment applications. Now, it is our turn. I am running legislation to "Ban the Box" in Utah to see a more successful future for everyone in our state.
Rep. Sandra Hollins represents District 23 in the Utah House of Representatives.