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Fair Chance For All Coalition applauds passage of HB 3025—a critical step in giving qualified job applicants who’ve paid their debts to society a fair chance at rebuilding their lives
(Salem, Ore.)—April 29, 2015—The Oregon House of Representatives today passed HB 3025, sending the bill to the Oregon Senate for approval. The legislation will prohibit employers from including questions about applicants’ criminal history on job applications. It is backed by The Fair Chance for All coalition, a group of more than 50 organizations in Oregon.
More than 32,000 people in Oregon are currently incarcerated or on community supervision and face barriers to housing and jobs. Nearly 11 percent of incarcerated Oregonians are African American, despite the fact that African Americans make up only 2 percent of Oregon’s overall population.
“Today, we are one step closer to banning the box so that thousands of people released from prison every year can obtain the jobs they need to support themselves and their families,” said Midge Purcell, Director of Advocacy and Public Policy for Portland Urban League. “These Oregonians need a second chance at rebuilding their lives.”
Successful employment is one of the most important factors for decreasing recidivism. A steady job provides not just financial resources, but also connections to a new community that can help reduce the risk of another offense.
"As a local business owner, I believe in second chances. Punishing people for a lifetime isn’t working," said Barb Campbell, Bend City Councilor and owner of Wabi Sabi. "At the end of the day, I am looking for the most hardworking, qualified person for the job. A checked box doesn't tell me everything I need to know about an applicant."
Theresa Sweeney, an Oregonian with personal experience transitioning from incarceration to the community, continues to struggles with employment, despite earning a master’s degree in 2010.
"People say, 'Pick yourself up by your bootstraps,’ and you do, but then there are still all these barriers,” said Sweeney. “It's so frustrating. It's been eleven years and I still face repercussions. It's really hard."
‘The box’ has already been removed from applications for City of Portland jobs in 2014 and Multnomah County jobs in 2007. If the legislature passes HB 3025, Oregon will join 100 jurisdictions and 16 states that have already banned the box, including: California, Colorado, Connecticut, Delaware, Georgia, Hawaii, Illinois, Maryland, Massachusetts, Minnesota, Nebraska, New Jersey, New Mexico, Rhode Island, Vermont, and Virginia.
The Portland City Council is also considering a ‘ban the box’ ordinance, which would apply to all employers in Portland. A hearing was held on the resolution last month.