Former inmate becomes ‘Ban the Box’ activist
There are nearly 6 million convicted felons in America as of 2010, and as each one is released from prison, they're expected to go back to daily life. However, as one Bronx native knows too well, it's not always possible to find a job.
Former inmate Marylin Scales regained her freedom in 1997 after serving two years on a felony charge for drug sales and possession. She has since spent 20 years staying clean and trying to move on from her past, but she still struggles to get hired for full-time work.
That's why Scales has become an activist for "Ban the Box," a movement that advocates getting rid of the box on job applications that asks if you have been convicted of a felony.
Scales says she will always be labeled a felon, even though she is much more than that. She is a mother, a daughter and a community activist. That's why she says she knows she can get hired if she can only land an interview, that way employers can meet her now, not who she used to be.
Meanwhile, Bronx Councilman Ritchie Torres is backing the Fair Chance Act, which would prohibit employers from asking about someone's criminal background until a conditional employment offer is made. It was approved by the City Council's Civil Rights Committee in December, and will be voted on. If passed, it will go to Mayor Bill de Blasio's desk.
The model for the Fair Chance Act is not a new one. Variations of it have already passed in 60 counties and cities nationwide.