People applying for positions with the city of New Haven will no have to check a box if they have a criminal history. The city might also ask its vendors to adopt a similar policy.
The initiative is commonly known as “ban the box,” a reference to the check box on job applications that indicates a criminal history.
New Haven has thousands of ex-cons in its general population and Mayor John DeStefano said it is the city's responsibility to afford all of them the opportunity to find work.
It is also, he said, a matter of public safety. Studies show those who are employed are less likely to commit crimes, he said.
The mayor and other advocates are quick to point out that this is not meant to favor one group over another. It is simply an attempt to level the playing field so that all applicants will be considered equally, based on their skills and qualifications.
The “ban the box” initiative does not mean that the city won't be doing background checks on prospective employees, but those checks will only come into play in the event that an applicant is considered among the final candidates for the job.
The board of alderman will also introduce an ordinance amendment that would require all vendors who do business with the city to “ban the box” on applications for city work.
New Haven is the first major city in Connecticut to adopt a “ban the box” policy.