Stop Discrimination on Job Applications - "Ban the Box!"
  • Petitioned Rhode Island State House

This petition was delivered to:

Rhode Island State House

Stop Discrimination on Job Applications - "Ban the Box!"

    1. Direct Action for  Rights & Equality
    2. Petition by

      Direct Action for Rights & Equality

      Providence, RI


It is well established that the path to stability for the formerly incarcerated is through employment, yet studies show that simply asking “Have You Been Convicted of a Felony?” is a major barrier on two levels.  First, it sends a message to the applicant that it is hopeless to apply; second, it allows employers to scrap an application without so much as an interview.  Studies have proven this to be true.

 A famous Milwaukee study found that Caucasian applicants received callbacks 35% of the time, but only 17% with a felony record.  African-American applicants went from 15% to 4%, respectively.  If only 4 out of 100 African-American Rhode Islanders with a felony can even get an interview, it is clear that the chances of honest employment are slim. 

Roughly 25% of RI has a criminal record, and 17,000 people per year are released from the ACI.  The New Mexico legislature issued a 2010 report showing their "Ban the Box" law will have “no fiscal impact.”  Rhode Island legislators should feel safe knowing that ours would be the same.

Representative Scott Slater has introduced a bill, HB # 5101, to counter this hopelessness.  It is similar to legislation passed in MA, CT, NY, MN, and NM over the past two years, and city/municipal ordinances around the nation (including Providence) which address this situation in some manner.

What it WILL do:

 Allow applicants to explain their felony convictions at the interview stage, if they have been deemed otherwise qualified for the job;

Stop public view of arrests and dismissed charges;

 Require an employer to put in writing, whenever the felony conviction is basis for denying employment, and refer to the specific conviction(s);

Allow an applicant to present evidence about the accuracy and/or relevance of the report;

What it WON’T do:

 Will not override any law that mandates people with felonies, or certain felonies, from working in particular occupations- (children, elderly, financial, etc.);

 Will not force employers to hire felons.



Recent signatures


    1. Direct Action for  Rights & Equality
      Petition Organizer

      Ban the Box RALLY!
      This Tuesday, March 8th at 3:00pm, at the Rhode Island Statehouse (across from the Providence Place Mall)!
      We'll be rallying support for the Ban the Box Bill before it goes into a Hearing at 4:30. Everyone who's available- come show your support for this important bill!

    2. Reached 250 signatures
    3. Direct Action for  Rights & Equality
      Petition Organizer

      WBRU has a Sunday radio show that every local prisoner listens to religiously- it is where all the "Shout Outs" happen... especially busy on Valentine's Day. Check out the story they ran on "Ban the Box."

    4. Direct Action for  Rights & Equality
      Petition Organizer

      The Rhode Island Senate has introduced S 224, sponsored by Senators Metts, Crowley, Jabour, Miller, Perry. This would make it illegal to deny someone employment solely for the existence of a criminal record. (With a few obvious exceptions). We will support this as our "mirror bill" to H5101.

      We have a few hundred hard copy petitions, aiming for March 8th. Keep spreading the word!

    5. Direct Action for  Rights & Equality
      Petition Organizer

      Providence City Council moves to support "Ban the Box" on Thursday.


    Reasons for signing

    • Leonard Uchendu GRAND RAPIDS, MI
      • over 3 years ago

      Incarceration is an injustice and oppression against the poor, the immigrants and the downtrodden in our society. The money used in the management of Prison across the United States should be re channelled to the alleviate of poverty through job creations in this country.

    • karen maloney PROVIDENCE, RI
      • over 3 years ago

      What ever happen to being "EQUAL" and NON-Judgemental. What a world we live in, the hood politics we must acknowledge this.

    • Ruth Wartenberg PROVIDENCE, RI
      • over 3 years ago

      I mentor a young woman who was released from prison in August 2009 with a felony charge. Staff at Open Doors employment program had prepared her for how to explain her criminal history when applying for jobs, as well as teaching her basic interviewing skills. After several months of filling out applications, my mentee obtained a part-time job at a fast food restaurant. Without the support she had received, as well as her persistence and eloquence, she would not have had a chance. Formerly incarcerated individuals can be wonderful employees. My mentee is always on time, works harder than her co-workers, and is the first person to cover a shift. If people with felonies cannot gain employment, there is an increased likelihood that they will engage in criminal activities in order to support themselves and their families. This creates a revolving door at the ACI. Let's make this an even playing field.

    • Dennis Gonsalves MARSTONS MILLS, MA
      • over 3 years ago

      As a manager for an Employment Services program that works with the mentally ill, I know the barriers that having a BCI presents to our clients. Many of our clients were convicted of crimes when they were untreated, delusional or otherwise incapable of controling their behaviors at the time. This change would at least give them a small chance to overcome the barriers to employment.

      • over 3 years ago

      Edward, why do you believe dismissed charges and arrests should remain in public view? Do you feel false allegations should be common knowledge?


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