Dems press Obama to 'ban the box'
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Twenty-seven senators want President Obama to block federal agencies and contractors from asking job applicants about prior criminal convictions. 
 
The senators, including 26 Democrats and presidential hopeful Bernie SandersBernard (Bernie) SandersChris Murphy’s profile rises with gun tragedies Clip shows Larry David and Bernie Sanders reacting after discovering they're related For now, Trump dossier creates more questions than answers MORE (I-Vt.), want Obama to take executive action to "ban the box," referring to a question on job applications that asks if an applicant has any convictions. 
 
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"We ask you to require federal contractors and agencies to refrain from asking job applicants about prior convictions until later in the hiring process," they said in a letter to Obama on Monday. "This policy would eliminate unnecessary barriers to employment for all job seekers and would give individuals re-entering the workforce the opportunity to apply for work based on their current merits rather than past wrong-doings."
 
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They note that federal employers would still be able to ask about past convictions or conduct a background check before making a final employment decision. 
 
The senators said that actions by Obama would "restore hope and opportunity to those with criminal records who face substantial obstacles in their quest to be productive members of their communities." 
 
The letter to Obama comes amid a larger push for criminal justice reform in the Senate. Cardin has introduced legislation that would restore voting rights for formerly incarcerated individuals.