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Topics in Criminal Justice: Ban the Box

Did you know that with legislation like New York's Fair Chance Act, it is illegal for most employers in New York City to ask about the criminal records of job applicants before making a job offer? Find out more about researching "Check the Box" or "Ban the Box" campaigns and legislation such as the Fair Chance Act and what resources are available on the topic at Dewey.

Ban the Box

Ban the Box campaigns developed as result of the discrimination individuals with criminal history experience while seeking employment following reentry. The argument is that by "checking the box" on criminal history on job applications, it does not give applicants a fair chance to explain their qualifications. Thus, many activists are fighting to ban employers from placing such questions on job applications.

Fair Chance Act

With the Fair Chance Act, it is illegal for most employers in New York City to create job listings, applications, and interview questions that include inquiries about an applicant's criminal record. Also, if an employer decides to rescind an offer based off an existing criminal record, they are required to explain their reasoning using the Fair Chance Notice. According to the requirements listed on the website for the Justice Center for the Protection of People with Special Needs, a criminal background check can only be submitted under the following stipulations:

  • After a Staff Exclusion List has been completed;
  • For Applicants who will have “regular and substantial, unsupervised or unrestricted contact” with service recipients of the program; and
  • After the Provider has made a determination that it intends to offer the Applicant a position.

Keyword Searches

When using any of our suggested databases, ideal search terms to use are "ban the box" or "employment and reentry."

Databases and Websites

Books and GovDocs Available at Dewey

  • Bushway, S., Stoll, M.A., & Weiman, D.F. (Eds.). (2007). Barriers to reentry?: The labor market for released prisoners in post-industrial America. New York: Russell Sage Foundation.
    Dewey Library / HV 9304 B357 2007
  • Committee on the Judiciary. (2014). Collateral Consequences: Hearing before the Over-Criminalization Task Force of 2014. Washington, D.C.: U.S. Government Printing Office.
    Online / GovDoc: J 85 Y 4.J 89/1:113-100
  • Delgado, M. (2012). Prisoner reentry at work: Adding business to the mix. Boulder, CO: Lynne Rienner Publishers.
    Dewey Library / HV 9304 D448 2012
  • Robinson, J. (2007). Think outside the cell: An entrepreneur's guide for the incarcerated and formerly incarcerated. New York: Resiliance Multimedia.
    Dewey Library / HV 9276 R63X 2007

Need Additional Assistance?

Help is available! Contact Cathy Dwyer, Subject Librarian for Criminal Justice, at (518) 442-3699 or - or drop by during Cathy's office hours, held weekly on Mondays from 4-7pm.

Blog Created By: Kristen Thornton-De Stafeno
Image Credit: Dancing Crow Media

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