“Ban the Box” Resolution Passes Unanimously in Prince William County

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Provided by Woodbridge District Supervisor Frank Principi

This Tuesday, the Prince William Board of County Supervisors unanimously passed the “Ban the Box” resolution, introduced last week by Woodbridge District Supervisor Frank Principi. As of Nov. 1, the county will remove from its employment applications any questions pertaining to arrests and convictions, allowing qualified applicants to reach the interview phase before being asked these questions. “We voted ‘yes’ to equal opportunity, and to second chances,” says Principi.
Ban the Box is an international civil rights movement that provides the opportunity for job seekers with criminal convictions to get past the application stage, improving their chances of employment. It was inspired by a 2004 Peace and Justice Community Summits report that found job and housing discrimination often prevents people who have paid their debt to society from successful reentry into their communities. “Because people of color are disproportionately arrested, convicted and incarcerated, employers’ use of arrest or conviction history has a disparate impact on those communities,” states the Ban the Box campaign in its FAQ.
As required by state and federal law, questions about criminal records will remain on county applications for positions of a sensitive nature, including those in public safety fields, with fiduciary responsibility to oversee county funds and that work with children or the elderly.

“The measure does not preclude an employer from conducting a background check or inquiring about convictions as a condition of employment,” explains Principi. “This is not about being soft on crime. In fact, enabling those who have paid their debt to earn an honest living and contribute to the community has been shown to lower recidivism. It is both the right and the smart thing to do.”

Principi thanked the Prince William County Chapter NAACP, Virginia Organizing and the League of Women Voters for their counsel throughout the planning and passage of the resolution, and for addressing the board on the issue during Citizen’s Time at the Oct. 6 and 13 BOCS meetings.

“We must improve reentry wherever we can so that people who have served their time can go on with a normal life. The alternative is they can’t get a job, they can’t get an opportunity, and many go back to jail,” says Virginia Organizing member Kevin Raymond. “Ban the box is the right thing to do, and it’s also the practical thing for taxpayers because if they go back to jail, we have to pay the bill.”

“As the PWC NAACP makes a more concerted effort to engage marginalized communities, we bring with us an example of effective advocacy and constructive partnership,” says Prince William County Branch NAACP President Karl Brower. “The leadership of Supervisor Principi and the thoughtful consideration by each member of the BOCS and the County Executive, has produced a meaningful resolution that reflects a commitment to provide opportunities for all PWC citizens. We look forward to seeing other PWC employers taking the initiative to expand the impact of this initiative and the positive impact it will have on the entire County.”

The unanimous vote by the Prince William BOCS means new opportunities for those re-entering the county from jail and prisons. Securing a job is essential for successful re-entry. We celebrate the  positive response from all eight supervisors and support by the county staff,” says Carol Noggle, Prince William Area First-Vice President of The League of Women Voters. “It also means that the League of Women Voters and our partners can go forward in counseling those with conviction histories.”

With passage of the resolution, Prince William County joins 52 municipalities and 17 states Banning the Box. Locally, the Commonwealth of Virginia and 11 of its community have adopted versions of this legislation. To view the full resolution, visit www.NewWoodbridge.org/issues.

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