Over the weekend, two Los Angeles County supervisors penned an enlightening article in support of Los Angeles County’s Fair Chance Hiring Initiative, which encourages employers to hire formerly incarcerated applicants. Written by Supervisors Mark Ridley-Thomas and Hilda L. Solis, the article surveys the life-changing approaches taken by supervisors and community members to promote the Fair Chance Ordinance’s protections and benefits, including a Ban the Box prohibition on inquiries into an applicant’s criminal history on job applications or postings.
The supervisors laud the community-wide benefits often spurred by Ban the Box laws. In Los Angeles County, employers that hire formerly incarcerated employees enjoy substantially higher retention rates. Further, Los Angeles County employers also receive significant tax credits and partial reimbursement for training costs when hiring employees with conviction histories. However, employers do not simply enjoy economic benefits, the supervisors write, “soon after employers work with the formerly incarcerated, they start to see them differently, more fully.”
Pointedly, the authors profile a community member who turned her life around upon securing steady employment, and who now advocates for Ban the Box laws. Like countless other individuals with conviction histories, her talents, skills, and worth were obscured by her criminal record. Recognizing that Fair Chance laws ensure others in a similar situation have a smoother path towards dignity, she now advocates for Ban the Box rights.
Localities around the country must recognize, and consider replicating, the commendable approach Los Angeles County has taken to support Ban the Box and ensure everyone receives a fair chance at employment.