"Ban The Box" Bill Passes Del. Senate, Heads to Governor - WBOC-TV 16, Delmarvas News Leader, FOX 21 -

"Ban The Box" Bill Passes Del. Senate, Heads to Governor

DOVER, Del. - "The Ban the Box" bill, which makes it illegal for employers to question a job applicant about whether they've ever been convicted with a felony was passed by the Delaware Senate Thursday. This is more than three months after the house did the same. Now after this 15-5 vote, the bill heads to the governor's office to be signed. 

WBOC reached out to the governor's office, a spokesperson said Gov. Jack Markell will sign the bill into law, although they did not offer a timeline. 

Many former inmates said this bill would be a positive change that would give them a second chance. One of those advocates is 49-year old Richard Blackston of Georgetown, who met with WBOC at the office of "The Way Home," an organization that helps convicts get on their feet. Blackston said that 25 years ago, he made some bad mistakes that landed him in the Sussex Correctional Institution. 

"I did some things when I was younger," he said. "And I had to pay for them. Just like everyone else. I had to pay for them.." 

Convicted with a felony, he said it was very difficult to find a job after he got out of prison. After many months, he said he was able to find a job, working at a chicken plant, where he has been for the last four months. He said the "Ban the Box" bill would help many like him by opening the door figuratively and literally. 

"This bill will get a person in the door..." he said. "It's no longer on the application. So they might look at the application and say 'I'm going to interview him.'"

From there he said it would be the applicant's chance to impress the employer on their qualities alone. 

An employee would still be able to deny employment to somebody due to their criminal history, but the law mandates that they cannot question about this criminal history until after the interview. Bret Marshall, owner of Ruddo's Golf said that he would want to know if a potential employee is a former felon from the beginning. 

"When you start excluding stuff like that..." he said. "You might not know fully the kind of individual you might be getting. Their character. I think it's important to know that up front and decide for yourself whether or not you want to move forward with that person in an actual interview." 

Bill Ethier of Lewes agreed, saying he would have no problem hiring a former inmate, but said he would want to know details of the crime before the interview, so that time wouldn't be wasted.

"I think it's important to not go all the way through the interview and then I find out that this person is a felon," he said. "I would like to know that up front."

There is one big exception to this new law. All applications to the field of criminal justice will be exempt to this policy. 

Already 60 cities and counties across 11 states have already accepted the "Ban the Box" policy. Hawaii was the first to do so back in 1998. Maryland passed the measure last year. The most recent state to sign "Ban the Box" into law was Nebraska in April. 
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