"Banning the box" spreads in the midstate

Written by Ben Allen, General Assignment Reporter | Sep 18, 2015 4:06 AM
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(Harrisburg) -- For people convicted of a crime, filling out a job application can be a daunting task.

But now, Dauphin County says over the next couple of months, all 40 departments will look at the impact of banning the box.

That refers to scrapping the question about your criminal history on an initial job application.

The city of Lancaster has already done away with it, and the city of Harrisburg is considering a similar move.

Dauphin County Commissioner George Hartwick says former convicts shouldn't be dismissed so quickly.

"They can sometimes be your best employee because they appreciate and value the opportunity to actually have meaningful employment. And shutting that off just because somebody has a past is certainly not a way for them to have any kind of successful future," says Hartwick.

"If they've lived a successful life, they deserve an opportunity to get meaningful employment, the ability to pay taxes, and raise a family. And if that opportunity can be provided, it'll also reduce the strain on the criminal justice system."

Hartwick says the county has one of the highest recividism rates in the state.

But he says if former inmates were able to get jobs, they might be less likely to return to jail.

The county will still run background checks on final candidates for jobs, and Hartwick says some departments - like corrections - will never employ former criminals.

A bill in the state Senate would also ban the box for state jobs, school districts, and any other boards, commissions, or departments.

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