New Rochelle’s Ban the Box initiative defers questions on arrests and prior convictions until the job interview. The city’s civil service office accepts job applications for the city, school district, public library and Municipal Housing Authority.
“A criminal record is not an automatic bar to employment,” said City Manager Charles Strome, III, so the city has removed the question from the job application asking if the individual has been convicted of a crime.
City Councilman Jared Rice, co-chairman of My Brother’s Keeper organization, said this effort, which did not need city council approval, could be expanded in the future as other cities have done.
“Syracuse took it to the next step, which was requiring anyone, or any contractors, doing business with the city to ban the box,” he said. “We are still researching the scope of this, but for right now, it is only limited to City Hall.”
Rice said one of the “key principles President Obama highlighted in his [My Brother’s Keeper] initiative, which is aimed at improving the lives of boys and young men of color, is the need to give adolescents and young adults ‘second chances,’ and this change does just that.”
The New Rochelle branch of the NAACP was instrumental with the release of the Ban the Box video (below) to promote the Ban the Box initiative. The initiative involves:
1) Engaging state and local lawmakers to enact Fair Chance legislation
2) Engaging local and state employers to amend their hiring practices to employ people with criminal records
The City of New Rochelle was the first municipality in Westchester County to accept President Obama’s My Brother Keeper’s Initiative challenge in 2015 and now leads the way in the County as one of, if not the first to implement the Ban The Box Initiative, BW hopes it will inspire other municipalities to follow.
“In New Rochelle, we are striving to create the best conditions for true equity,” Councilman Jared Rice shares with BW. “Banning the box to assist those with criminal records gain meaningful employment is one step of many in making that a reality.”