'Ban the Box' Bill Considered in Delaware Senate - WBOC-TV 16, Delmarvas News Leader, FOX 21 -

'Ban the Box' Bill Considered in Delaware Senate

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(Photo: WBOC) (Photo: WBOC)

DELAWARE - The Delaware House passed a bill Thursday, that if accepted by the Senate could change the way convicted felons apply for jobs in the First State. The "Ban the Box" Bill would mean that felons no longer have to disclose their criminal history until after they are interviewed for a position. 

Employers can still deny the job to an individual because of their past felonies, but will simply be unable to see this information until after they are interviewed. 

Former prisoners like Richard Blackston of Georgetown think this would give people like him a new chance. The 49 year old man said that he made serious mistakes when he was 24-years old. And as a punishment, he served time at the Sussex Correctional Institution for years. 

Now that he is out of prison, he said he wants a new start. 

"It's (my) fault for getting in trouble in the first place for one thing," he said. "But I feel like for making a mistake, society shouldn't shun you for the rest of your life." 

Blackston said he has faced many employers who have seen the checked felon box, and moved on. Now he said he hopes the bill will be accepted, so he can move forward with his professional life. 

"At least it will get you in the door," he said. "And you can be able to sit down and explain yourself. Instead of - versus the door being closed in your face before you even get to talk for yourself."

But this change has some business owners concerned. John Minka, owns a tattoo studio in Lewes, and said it's his right to ask someone if they've committed a felony. 

"If I want to ask it, it's my decision in the application," he said. "So if I put it in the application 'true or false: are you a felon?' that's my right." 

The House included two amendments as well, one of which added an exemption of this law for applications to the criminal justice field. That means, even if the bill passes, the box will remain on applications for all jobs relating to policing, the judicial system, and other accompanying fields. 

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