Ex-felons often have difficulty obtaining employment after release, particularly when they have to self-identify on the job application as a person with a criminal past. In order for applicants to be reviewed based on knowledge and skills with no negative assumption stemming from previous issues, many communities across the United States have removed the question from their applications following a Ban the Box initiative.
“Instead of asking the question right up front, on an application where oftentimes people are screened right off if they have a felony record, at least the person with the felony record has the opportunity to be interviewed and sell themselves,” Jennifer Cobbina is quoted as saying. However, she notes that removing the question may adversely affect applicants who have gaps in employment unrelated to incarceration, because employers are left to reach their own conclusions.
Jennifer E. Cobbina is an associate professor in the School of Criminal Justice at Michigan State University. Her primary research focuses on the issue of corrections, prisoner reentry and the understanding of recidivism and desistance among recently released female offenders.