Missouri and the 'ban the box' movement

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If one of the goals of the criminal justice system is to stop people convicted of a crime from doing it again, it makes sense that the system should be set up to encourage people to find jobs after paying their debt to society. But when a job application asks about your criminal record, you can bet the chances of you landing the job are slim if you have one.

This is such a common practice that it can virtually block someone with a criminal history from having a career. Civil rights groups have long campaigned to “Ban the Box,” referring to the box on job applications that applicants are supposed to check if they have ever been convicted of a crime.

A handful of states and the District of Columbia have moved to block many employers from asking about job applicants about their criminal history. Missouri is not among them, but earlier this month Gov. Jay Nixon signed an executive order banning state agencies from asking about criminal records on initial applications.

Meanwhile, lawmakers in both the Missouri House and Senate have introduced legislation to “ban the box” for all employers, but neither bill is likely to get out of committee this year, according to the Columbia News Tribune. The sponsor of the House version, Rep. Randy Dunn of Kansas City, expects the effort will take years. “We want to ensure that these individuals are able to integrate back into society,” Dunn said. “And one of the best ways to do that is, of course, through employment.”

Stopping you from getting a job is just one way having a criminal record can affect you, and why fighting for your rights after getting arrested is so important. An experienced criminal defense attorney represents your best chance of doing that.

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