Senate

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 Sanders (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. 
 
{mosads}”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.”
 
In addition to Sanders, the letter was signed by Democratic Sens. Cory Booker (N.J.), Sherrod Brown (Ohio), Sheldon Whitehouse (R.I.), Chris Murphy (Conn.), Chris Coons (Del.), Dick Durbin (Ill.), Al Franken (Minn.), Ed Markey (Mass.), Tim Kaine (Va.), Jeff Merkley (Ore.), Patrick Leahy (Vt.), Mazie Hirono (Hawaii), Tammy Baldwin (Wis.), Ron Wyden (Ore.), Mark Warner (Va.), Kirsten Gillibrand (N.Y.), Richard Blumenthal (Conn.), Elizabeth Warren (Mass.), Patty Murray (Wash.), Tom Udall (N.M.), Tom Carper (Del.), Ben Cardin (Md.), Jack Reed (R.I.), Joe Manchin (W.Va.), Amy Klobuchar (Minn.) and Brian Schatz (Hawaii).
 
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. 
 
Meanwhile, Sen. Tim Scott (S.C.) said earlier this month on ABC’s “This Week” that he and other Republicans have “been working for the last several months on different proposals” addressing criminal justice reform.
Tags Al Franken Amy Klobuchar Ben Cardin Bernie Sanders Chris Coons Chris Murphy Dick Durbin Ed Markey Elizabeth Warren Jack Reed Jeff Merkley Joe Manchin Kirsten Gillibrand Mark Warner Mazie Hirono Patrick Leahy Patty Murray Richard Blumenthal Ron Wyden Sheldon Whitehouse Sherrod Brown Tammy Baldwin Tim Kaine Tim Scott Tom Carper Tom Udall
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