The movement to “ban the box” has reached the Iowa statehouse.
A national coalition that includes the conservative Koch Industries as well as the NAACP are urging businesses to quit including a box on job applications that applicants must check if they have a criminal history.
Advocates say it prevents people who’ve done their time and been paroled from getting a job.
“We do expect that they would be able to serve their time and then get on with this life,” said Betty Andrews, president of the Iowa/Nebraska chapter of the NAACP.
She testified this week at an Iowa Senate subcommittee hearing.
“This a special challenge for African-Americans and we’re just looking for ways to make sure that once the time is served, that individuals can go on with their lives,” Andrews said.
The bill that’s been introduced in the state senate would “ban the box” on job applications and delay the question about a criminal history until the job interview. Critics say some businesses are required by federal law to exclude all convicted felons from employment. And some business groups say it would add expense and liability to job searches.
(A previous version of this story indicated Koch Industries supports “ban the box” legislation, but Koch Industries lobbyist Tom Cope says while the company believes it’s the right business strategy, it does not support mandating such a move through state or federal laws.)