Excerpted from columbiatribune.com, by Caitlin Camplbell

Local activists and criminal justice experts say the “Ban the Box” law in Columbia, Missouri is not doing minorities any favors.

During overlapping forums this past week that included discussions about improving the criminal justice system, questions emerged about whether Columbia’s “ban the box” ordinance is effective.

“Ban the box” laws forbid employers from asking questions about a job applicant’s criminal record on an application and pushes back any investigation into that history until late in the hiring process. The past five years, dozens of states and cities adopted the law in the hopes of creating additional employment opportunities for ex-offenders. The hope is that jobs will reduce recidivism rates and help those with a criminal history become productive members of society.

“There is a lot of evidence that suggests that as soon as an employer discovers that an applicant has a criminal record, they stop considering them — so it sounds very sensible,” said Aaron Hedlund, an economics professor at the University of Missouri. “The problem is that what it creates is what is called ‘statistical discrimination’.”

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