At this week’s Spokane City Council meeting, the Council voted to 'ban the box' in Spokane. After hearing testimony from felons who had difficulty finding work and social justice groups after their release, it was decided that the policy would lift the initial barrier for those hoping to avoid relapses into crime. This decision will enforce fines for businesses asking about an applicant’s criminal history before an interview, either on an application or over the phone. Fines will not be enforced until 2019 to allow local businesses time for transition and the law does not prevent businesses from conducting background checks.
At BHT, we strongly support the removal of barriers that lead to better, whole person health and self improvement. Individuals transitioning out of jail are one of the most underserved populations and face extreme barriers to receiving whole person care—access to housing, employment, etc. These barriers are a major contributing factor to the City of Spokane’s high recidivism rates. 'Ban the box' is a positive step forward in helping to stabilize the population transitioning out of jail and equip them with better access to resources that will help meet their needs, ultimately, leading to healthier individuals and a healthier society.
Read more about City Council’s decision to 'ban the box' in The Spokesman-Review here.